Working Hours Threshold

The map below shows American workers' threshold for the working week:

A History of the 40-Hour Work Week

1817: Following the Industrial Revolution, activists and labor unions campaigned for improved working conditions, as many workers were required to work for up to 80 or 100 hours per week during this period.

1866: The National Labor Union appealed to Congress to establish a law requiring an eight-hour workday. Although the law was not enacted, the initiative generated greater public backing for the reform.

1869: President Ulysses S. Grant issued a proclamation ensuring that government employees were entitled to an eight-hour workday. This action by Grant motivated private-sector workers to demand similar labor rights.

1886: The Illinois Legislature approved a law that made eight-hour workdays mandatory, but numerous employers refused to comply, leading to a majo worker strike in Chicago. Tragically, a bomb was detonated during the strike, killing at least 12 people. This event, known as the Haymarket Riot, resulted in widespread commemoration on May 1 as a public holiday in numerous countries.

1938: The Fair Labor Standards Act, passed by Congress, mandated that employers compensate all employees who worked beyond 44 hours per week with overtime pay. Two years later, an amendment to the act was introduced to reduce the workweek to 40 hours.