Less work for less pay? Survey results say “No way”

The results are in!

In late September I surveyed readers about my possible solution to the jobs crisis. Here’s a quick recap: lots of Americans are out of work — 15% are unemployed or underemployed, according to the BLS’s most important statistic — but at the same time, many people with solid jobs are overemployed. As analyst Juliet Schor noted in her book The Overworked American, Americans have come to work more hours per week and get far less vacation time than workers in most other industrialized countries.

I wondered: would people like to work less each week, for less pay? Or get more vacation in exchange for less pay? If so, could this help solve the jobs crisis?

Among our 28 respondents, the answer was a resounding, “No way.”

When asked whether they would like to work reduced hours for reduced pay, almost three times as many respondents said “No” than “Yes.” And while more than half of respondents said they don’t get enough vacation time, only a third said they’d be willing to trade less pay for more vacation.

You might expect that people working more hours would have greater interested in the kind of tradeoff I proposed. But surprisingly, at least among our unscientific sample, there’s a strong effect in the opposite direction. Those who work 40 hours or more are far less likely to be interested in taking a pay cut in exchange for working fewer hours:

And the same trend holds when I asked about vacation time:

Overall, respondents were pretty clear that the “less work for less pay” model was not a viable option for them. The issue may boil down to this, as one respondent commented:

Even though the tradeoff I proposed doesn’t seem to be a popular idea here, other comments made clear that not everyone is happy with their work-life-income balance.

 I may run a second survey that specifically targets folks who have jobs that both require many hours each week and pay enough that they could realistically consider a pay cut. This version might also try to segment the results by profession or job type. In the meantime, who’s got a different bright idea about how to fix the economy?