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San Francisco Tops Study’s Hardest-Working Cities List

With March 3 being Employee Appreciation Day and Americans working an average of 1,791 hours per year, much more than people in many other industrialized countries, the personal-finance website WalletHub has released its report on 2023’s Hardest-Working Cities in America, as well as expert commentary.

In order to determine where Americans work the hardest, WalletHub compared the 116 largest cities across 11 key metrics. The data set ranges from employment rate to average hours worked per week to share of workers with multiple jobs.


Top 20 Hardest-Working Cities in America

San Francisco, CA, comes in at number one on the list, followed by Anchorage, AK at number two; then, Irving, TX; Virginia Beach, VA; Washington, DC; Sioux Falls, SD; Norfolk, VA; Cheyenne, WY; Dallas, TX and, rounding out the top ten, Austin, TX.

Ranked number 11 through 20 are: Nashville, TN; Plano, TX; Chesapeake, VA; Billings, MT; Chandler, AZ; Denver, CO; Corpus Christi, TX; Scottsdale, AZ; Fort Worth, TX; and Garland, TX.


Key Stats

Irving, Texas, has the lowest share of households where no adults work, 11.04 percent, which is 3.7 times lower than in Detroit, the city with the highest at 40.57 percent.

New York City has the longest average commute time, 41.40 minutes, which is 2.8 times longer than in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the city with the shortest at 15.00 minutes.

Baltimore contributes the most annual volunteer hours per resident, 45.10, which is 5.7 times more than in Jacksonville, Florida, the city that contributes the fewest at 7.89.

San Jose, California, has the lowest share of idle youth 16-24-years-old, 7.00 percent, which is 2.8 times lower than in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the city with the highest at 19.70 percent.


To view the full report, visit:


Expert Commentary

Does working more hours always translate into higher productivity? Does this vary by industry or job type?

“We would hope it would, but we know that more skilled people can do the same tasks in less time. A less competent employee spending more time on a task is not more productive than a more competent one spending less time on it. Lots of factors can impact the relationship between time worked and actual performance.”

Peter Cappelli – Professor; Director - Center for Human Resources, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


“Certainly, this varies by worker and job, but productivity studies have shown that for most workers and most jobs, once you get over 55 hours a week, most workers generally are adding very little to total output. Productivity studies done to maximize war production during WWII showed this result, and more recent studies continue to confirm it. Employers and workers who work longer than this think they are increasing production because they continue to get things done, but in the long-run productivity is greatest with regular breaks and recreation.”

Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, J.D., Ph.D. – Professor, Indiana University, Bloomington



Research points to an increase in the average workday length in recent years. What factors do you think prompted this change when working from home (no commuting, having difficulty in drawing the line between work and home, etc.)

“I think the line between work and home or off work had already started to become blurred due to the growing work demands related to technological advances. Employees were and are increasingly being expected to check and respond to emails and texts even during off-work hours. Certain businesses allowed and even expected employees to bring their own devices and smartphones to work and use them to perform their work duties. This merges personal and off-duty activities as you are using the same device to engage in these activities. COVID likely exacerbated this blurring by expanding the virtual workplace and creating new workplace terms such as virtual platform fatigue. The shift from a 40-hour workweek to almost a 24-hour-a-day setting, at least for some days of that workweek, is mostly due to technological innovations in my opinion. These technical developments have made it easier for workers to turn on their own devices while at home or off duty and respond to electronic communications. They can open their laptops or tablets to spend more hours working when they would have been functioning in a structural office setting mostly over a 40-hour workday before the technical advancements that now play such a role in how employees perform their work duties.”

Michael Z. Green – Professor and Director, Workplace Law Program, Texas A&M University School of Law



What policies should governments and firms adopt to improve the quality of life of American workers?

“Enforcing current laws would help. For example, many workers should not be treated as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act – in other words, simply shifting someone to a salaried job title if their actual work does not change much is a misclassification.”

Peter Cappelli – Professor; Director - Center for Human Resources, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


“Paid parental leaves and longer paid vacations would be a good start. Also, larger overtime and holiday premiums. As American workers rediscovered during the pandemic, time with children, spouses, and loved ones is what makes life, and work, worthwhile. The United States is the only industrialized nation without paid parental leave and our norm of two weeks of paid vacation is half the European standard. In China, workers get triple time if they work on a national holiday, and they have a lot of national holidays. Wouldn’t it be great for retail workers to get to spend holidays with their families? Or, at least be compensated very well if they are required to work?”

Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, J.D., Ph.D. – Professor, Indiana University, Bloomington