Average Weekly Hours (Average Workweek)

Release Date: Monthly basis, on the first Friday of the new month
Release Time: At 9:30am Eastern US Time
Released By: The US Bureau of Labor Statistics


The Average Weekly Hours is a report that is released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a unit within the US Department of Labor. It is an indicator of labor cost inflation and of how competitive the labor markets are. It is also known as the Average Workweek report.

The Average Weekly Hours is a compilation of the average number of hours worked per week (including overtime) by all employees of private business concerns (except those in the agricultural sector). The data is arranged by industry sector, after which an average is taken to give the final figures.

Time of Release

The Average Weekly Hours is usually released on a monthly basis, on the first Friday of the new month at 9:30am Eastern US Time, as part of the employment data which comprises the Non-Farm employment change, Unemployment Rate and Average Hourly Earnings reports. Information about this news release is usually obtained from the website of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as other news sources such as Bloomberg and Thomas Reuters. News release covers the previous month’s data.

Average WorkWeek report snaphot
Snapshot of Average WorkWeek Report

Interpreting the Data

The average workweek (also known as hours worked) is used as a critical determinant of such monthly indicators as industrial production and personal income. In addition, the Average Workweek report is considered as a useful indicator of labor market conditions. When the average weekly hours worked starts to show increases early in the business cycle, it may be the first indication that employers are preparing to boost their payrolls, while rising workweek numbers late in the cycle may be a sign that employers are finding it hard to get qualified applicants for open positions.

Conclusion

The US is one of the few countries where the workweek is not fixed. The workweek is fixed in 134 countries of the world. This then provides the basis for employees to work any amount of hours per week (including overtime). This is why this report is necessary to get a view of the number of hours Americans work per week, and use it as a basis for analyzing other stats as shown above.