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These countries work harder than the U.S.

Republican candidate and former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, and Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, exchanged barbs over Twitter after Bush said this in an interview on Wednesday with the New Hampshire Union Leader, “We have to be a lot more productive. Workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

Democratic front runner Clinton responded with a tweet saying "Anyone who believes Americans aren't working hard enough hasn't met enough American workers."

Bush later explained his remarks were referring to people who are working part-time because they cannot find full-time work.  But either way, the conversation was started.

At the same time, halfway around the world, the debt crisis in Greece continues to unfold.  The Greek people have developed a reputation as a lazy people who refuse austerity measures and retire way too early.  But the reality is Greeks work longer hours than their counterparts in every other European nation.

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So which countries work the longest hours?  Here’s where workers put in the most time on the job and where the U.S. stacks up, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, better known as the OECD:

  • Workers in Mexico work the longest hours. An average Mexican worker puts in 2,228 hours a year on the job or about 43 hours per week. Mexico is the second largest Latin American economy according to the World Bank.
  • South Korea has not submitted its data to the OECD for 2014 but in 2013 the nation was firmly the second-hardest working, behind Mexico. In 2013, South Korean workers put 2,163 hours in a year or roughly 42 hours per week. 
  • The current debt crisis in Greece didn’t help the perception of the work ethic there, of Greeks being over-paid, underworked and retiring early. But in reality, Greeks work the longest hours in Europe, clocking in 2,042 hours a year in 2014, which works out to about 39 hours per week.
  • Chile and Russia round out the top five nations with workers putting in an average of 1,990 and 1,985 hours a year per worker respectively, or about 38 hours per week. 
  • Americans are ranked #16 by OECD in terms of longest hours worked, putting in 1,788 in 2013 and 1,789 in 2014, or about 34.4 hours per week. That works out to more hours than in most countries. Keep in mind, the average of OECD countries is about 1,770 hours or 34 hours per week.
  • Germany, by the way, works the shortest hours of all OECD countries. The average worker there puts in just 1,371 hours a year or 26 hours per week.  Norway had the second shortest hours.


The OECD calculates the data based on the total number of hours worked a year divided by the average number of people employed per year. For the OECD report, hours worked includes regular work hours of full-time, part-time and part-year workers, paid and unpaid overtime, and hours worked in additional jobs. It doesn't include time not worked because of holidays, illness, temporary disability, maternity leave, training, strikes and other reasons.

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