Working practices & values

Work-life balance in the US is certainly skewed towards working. Long hours are common. Yet, there are many places across the US where a healthy equilibrium can be achieved.

Covid-19 latest information

This guide is an accurate reflection of the pre-Covid-19 business environment in the USA. Please note that due to the current situation, some circumstances may have changed in this country. Figures and data in the guide were last updated in May 2021.

It’s often said that Americans live to work while Europeans work to live and there is some truth to this statement. US employees work slightly longer hours than their global peers, according to the OECD. They also take fewer holidays. Workers in France, Germany and Italy routinely have 30 days’ annual leave.

Analysing the 100 biggest urban areas in the US, Zippia found that the Californian cities of San Diego and San Jose, Nebraska’s Omaha and Lincoln, as well as Honolulu in Hawaii came out on top for workers not bringing work home with them.

Average commute times across the country are just over 25 minutes, according to the US Census Bureau, with slightly longer commutes commonplace in and around the big cities. Research from Gallup also suggests that remote working is becoming more prevalent.

Compared with Europe, US employment regulation tends to favour the employer, though rules vary from state to state. One key difference is that US employers can terminate a contract without any notice or reason. There’s also no right to sick pay in many states.

A few states operate without a minimum wage law, although others offer the mandated federal minimum of USD7.25 an hour.

The majority set higher rates. For example, California's minimum wage is $14 an hour.