In June, the average workweek for production and non supervisory workers on private non farm payrolls fell by 0.1 hour to 33.0 hours--the lowest level on record for the series, which began in 1964. The manufacturing work week rose by 0.1 hour to 39.5 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 2.8 hours.
It's important to note that the average work week measures only those that do have a job. June was the second month in a row in which the average work week dropped. Furthermore, it continues to break records for the shortest work week on record.
Most folks say that employment is a "lagging" indicator. After all, the theory goes that employers wait until they are sure there is a recovery before they begin hiring again. What do you say about employers cutting back on the number of hour of their current employers? Here's how money manager Richard Bernstein explains it.
This is generally considered a leading indicator because employers will tend to adjust the number of hours their employees work before hiring or firing them. For example, it would be normal for companies to begin to pay existing workers overtime before they hire additional workers because of the uncertainty related to the initial upturn in a production or service cycle.
What has been happening to the length of the work week? It has hit all-time lows the last two months. That’s right. The only official leading indicator in the employment report has hit all-time lows the last two months.
Now, the work week is the shortest on record since it became a statistic in 1964. Now, this is NOT a political problem. As Bernstein points out, no commentators are talking about it. It is, however, an economic problem.
That ultimately makes it a political problem. Weakness in the economy is at a tipping point. Things are NOT getting better. If you don't believe that jobs are a leading indicator, then believe the work week.