The blog for the online real estate brokerage firm Movoto recently published a list of the 50 hardest working cities in America. Is there anything the supposedly lazy and entitled millennial generation can learn from this study?
Movoto's study ranked cities based on such chosen indicators as average hours worked per week, commute time, and even volunteer hours. Five Texan cities were ranked among the top 10, with the average Houston resident working more hours per work than anywhere else in the country. However, according to Census data, only the San Jose, Washington D.C., and San Francisco metropolitan areas also ranked in the top 10 in terms of annual per-capita income. This highlights a growing trend in America: Despite increased hours and output, many Americans are actually seeing decreases in their real wages. The solution to this problem could truly entail getting more millennials to be productive.
Some of then 10 lowest-ranked cities on Movoto's list have become synonymous with the decline of America's industrial empire and post-housing-bubble economic depression. Cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee have experienced tremendous population and capital flight as generations-old blue-collar jobs were replaced with white-collar, college educated professionals. While many cities in the Rust Belt have begun transformations into technology hubs, the rate at which this transformation can take place depends more on the availability of qualified workers than the amount of hours they are willing to put in per week.
A country's productivity level is the main determinant of its living standards and an important factor in its yearly growth. Essentially, the country that is able to produce a given product or service with the least amount of time and/or expense is better off than others. The old adage about working smarter, not harder is not only practical but beneficial. Economist Robert Solow won the Nobel Prize for his work determining that technological progress is the only source of long-term economic growth. Investment is needed in both education and infrastructure in order to turn around the country's depressed communities.
I recently participated in a high-school career day event. I was one the youngest people present and on numerous occasions overheard comments about how lazy and unintelligent today's youth are. Our addiction to social media and general lack of ambition is setting us up for failure, supposedly when compared to previous generations. However, within this critique may lie the key to our generation's salvation. In the 21st century, being addicted to technology can actually be profitable. Instead of being bullied for sitting in front of a computer all day, children are now ostracized for not having a social media presence. Millennials around the country can surely attest to their indispensability in offices dominated by older workers. In these sorts of offices,
especially those with a high average number of hours worked per week, it would be interesting to see how many of those hours are spent trying to remember how to check email.