Working Americans power our economy, but the economy has not been working for them. Too many Americans are one paycheck away from bankruptcy and stressed to their limits. This is toxic to American workers, their families, and their communities, who are seeing rising illness rates, lower educational outcomes for their children, widening divides in society, and environmental catastrophe.
For the last half-century, the U.S. economy has thundered ahead while leaving the bottom half of America behind. None of the prosperity of our booming economy has gone to the bottom 50% of Americans, while the top 1% has seen its income triple. The benefits of our economy cannot continue accruing only to the top.
The nation’s wealthiest and most powerful interests fought to prevent Henry Ford and Franklin Delano Roosevelt from instituting a 5 Day Week nearly a century ago, arguing that it would destroy the US economy. Instead, our economy soared to historic heights, attracting innovators and industry while creating opportunities for millions of Americans to live meaningful, productive lives. A century’s worth of innovation has since changed virtually everything else about how we work, except for our work week. At the beginning of the 20th Century, American business leaders and a president invested in American workers and their families, and the payoff lifted the nation’s economy higher than any other in the world. It’s time to do it again.
The 4-Day Week is an investment directly in America’s workers, who in turn will invest in themselves by learning new skills; find more time for family; and contribute to community, civic, and educational activities.
How we are working is not working.
Our Health and Wellness
The data is bluntly clear: American working families are stressed to the limit. Decades of ever increasing work hours have left too many working families with the same pay, or even less. The sheer exhaustion of overwork is literally toxic. Health research links work and financial stresses to marked increases in sickness and depression in adults, and their children, who are more likely to themselves fall ill and perform worse in school as a result. Compounded across families and communities, overwork and stress is decimating wide swaths of American society.
A 4-Day Week enables working families the time to invest in themselves and their communities. The data shows that worker happiness skyrockets when enrolled in a 4-Day Week, producing a social multiplier effect that beneficially impacts nearly every corner of society. Workers will have the time to invest in themselves (continued education, skills training, enriching activities), in their families (time spent with children and on school-related activities), and their communities (participation in civic, cultural, and charitable institutions).
More hours at work means more intense resource use causing stress on our environment and infrastructure. A 4-Day Week, scaled to a national level, would reduce millions of commuting hours every month — significantly reducing emissions, improving energy conservation, and reducing wear and tear on transportation infrastructure. Fostering a new era of smart growth, the 4-Day week addresses the so-called Productivity Paradox (where increasing hours worked actually diminishes productivity rates, a phenomenon tracked across the U.S. and Europe) head-on while realizing genuine environmental conservation.
Despite numbers that show a tight job market, the headline data doesn’t count the millions of Americans who have simply given up looking for a new job — and the many millions more who are stuck working in the gig economy or other low-paying jobs where promotions and growth opportunity are scarce. With the right incentives, organizations can hire more people — and recruit from marginalized and other groups who are now stymied. This includes the elderly, minorities, and pregnant women and new mothers.