Fluctuations in Weekly Hours and Total Hours Worked Over the Past 90 Years and the Importance of Changes in Federal Policy Toward Job Sharing

30 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2013 Last revised: 31 May 2021

See all articles by Todd Neumann

Todd Neumann

University of California, Merced; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jason Taylor

Central Michigan University

Price V. Fishback

University of Arizona; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2013

Abstract

During the Great Depression of 1930s, changes in the workweek drove a larger portion of changes in total labor input than in other decades. Work-sharing policies appear to be responsible. Hoover created various work-sharing committees lead by key industrialists, which pushed for shorter workweeks and Roosevelt's President's Reemployment Agreement called for sharp cuts in weekly hours. The hope was to spread available work amongst more people. While between 50 and 90 percent of declines in labor input were accommodated by falling hours during these periods, in recent decades employers have primarily relied on layoffs to achieve the same end. During the Great Depression of 1930s, changes in the workweek drove a larger portion of changes in total labor input than in other decades. Work-sharing policies appear to be responsible. Hoover created various work-sharing committees lead by key industrialists, which pushed for shorter workweeks and Roosevelt's President's Reemployment Agreement called for sharp cuts in weekly hours. The hope was to spread available work amongst more people. While between 50 and 90 percent of declines in labor input were accommodated by falling hours during these periods, in recent decades employers have primarily relied on layoffs to achieve the same end.

Suggested Citation

Neumann, Todd and Taylor, Jason and Fishback, Price V., Fluctuations in Weekly Hours and Total Hours Worked Over the Past 90 Years and the Importance of Changes in Federal Policy Toward Job Sharing (February 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w18816, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2219074

Todd Neumann

University of California, Merced ( email )

P.O. Box 2039
Merced, CA 95344
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jason Taylor

Central Michigan University ( email )

Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
United States

Price V. Fishback

University of Arizona ( email )

Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States
520-621-4421 (Phone)
520-621-8450 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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