How long will the average person spend working in their lives...?

When I was still working as a teacher and on my path to Early Retirement Extreme (Lite) I worked out, in 2016, what percentage of one's life an average worker in the UK would spend at work, something I was very sensitive to at the time given my all-consuming career choice.

I recently visited my calculations to see if things had changed this year, and they have, quite significantly and knocked up this little infographic....


Based on the current average working hours of 36.5 per week and a 50 year working life factoring in 5 weeks holiday per year, then the average person will spend 19.6% of their total lifetime waking hours at work, and 29.4% of their total working-life waking hours, so half way between a quarter and a third.

Just six years ago in 2016 that second figure stood at 35%.

It's a combination of the Pandemic and Rising Life Expectancy...

From 35% to 29% is quite a drop in 6 years, and that's down partly to the fact that people are living longer - a longer life means proportionately less time working, but mainly due to a reduction in working hours - which in turn is mainly down to the Pandemic - hours were slashed during lockdown and just haven't quite recovered!


Obviously there will be a lot of variation around these stats depending on age, gender, class background, type of job, and of course income, but it's interesting to note that the statistical baseline is that only 30% of time while working is spent at work, which isn't too bad.

Of course I guess a lot of people will have to add on travel time to that, but again that's something that the Pandemic has helped to reduce due to the increasing prevalence of people working from home.

I almost hate to admit this, as I do so love critiquing and damning ordinary society, but this looks like progress - although maybe the reduction in working hours over a lifetime isn't set to last given the recent increase in cost of living - a lot of people are going to have to find more hours going forwards!


As a former teacher myself I would have loved to work for 35.6 hours a week lol
More like 70 hours is more accurate if super organised.

The data is for the average worker but have you factored in what has happened to younger people?
They are expected to work like dogs for a pittance and don't get a full adult wage until they are 26 years old!

They are exploited by many high street shops and are expected to work a full days shift unpaid while being 'assessed' as to their suitability to the post? Waiters, baristas and bar staff etc.

We are far from going in the right direction more like the road to serfdom.

Interesting article. It got me to comment 😂👍🏼

Great comment. Case in point, landscaper friend of my son's, minimum wage, but not paid for hours travelling to jobs. Wtf? He did leave. Young people are also not putting up with it as much

Life is tough out there - these are just averages!

My granddaughter worked 2 full shifts in 2 different coffee shops and didn't get paid.
I asked her what on earth she was doing?
She replied.

That's how it is these days.

To which I replied.

Because you allowed it to happen?

The young people have been destroyed by the last 20 years of a particularly vicious form of capitalism and we all let it happen.

And ex teacher myself, though I still do emergency teaching and marking. Good money, no responsibility, pick and choose hours. I'll never do full time permanent teaching ever again. I'd rather die.

Yeah I can't go back - it's the system! X

I'd rather die

I know the feeling. Teaching today is fubar.🤯🤦‍♂️😂👍🏼

There will be many variations - I suspect we're of an era where we worked less in our early 20s, like dogs in our 30s and 40s and then gradually wound down to retirement - cld well be worse for the youth!

It would be different for everyone based on their life chances. I began full time work at 15 years old 50 hours a week in a paper mill. The pay was good but it was back breaking work.

It made me stronger and determined to get into something better.

By 33 I was a teacher. I quit teaching after almost 30 years. I don't miss it at all. Work that is. 😂🤦‍♂️👍🏼

Has the increase in working time anything to do with the increase in pension ages to 67 in most countries?

The future pension age in the UK hasn't changed since back in 2016 so not in this case no!

Quite interesting and even intriguing. Here we count it by the days LOL 'cause there's absolutely no regard for people or their mental health generally. Or even physical health until you actually break down 🥲. People work for hours on end and get paid peanuts. You can say "cheap labour'.

The effects of the pandemic aren't sll that favourable... they're more negative than positive.

Yeah it will be harder for the underpaid foe sure!


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