Most Americans back four-day work week but won’t take a pay cut for it

At the same time, Americans value flexibility over length in their vacation policies.

The author(s)

  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
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August 17—Many Americans want a four-day work week but aren’t willing to take a pay cut. At the same time, Americans value flexibility over length in their vacation policies. Beyond work and vacation, we explore how people get around in a typical week and the changes to transportation they’d like to see in their day-to-day lives.

Work and vacation:

Local transit:

Americans unwilling to take a pay cut for a four-day work week

A plurality of Americans believe that everyone would be more productive operating on a four-day work week, but few are willing to take a pay cut to make that vision a reality.

Age plays a big role in how open Americans are to the concept of rolling their Fridays over into the weekend. The younger they are, the better an idea they think it is.

However, income level also matters. People who earn more than $75,000, regardless of whether they are older or younger than 40, are more likely than lower-wage workers in their same age cohort to think people would be more productive working on a four-day schedule.

Americans prize flexibility when it comes to their vacation

Two in three Americans would prefer going on shorter vacations of their choosing throughout the year over a mandatory two to three week long break that everyone in the company takes together, Ipsos polling finds.

Part-time workers are slightly less likely to back the flexible, shorter vacation option over the longer mandatory one than full-time employees. Additionally, people who work part-time are slightly more likely than full-time workers to worry that taking a vacation may give people the impression they are not hard workers. 

Even with this variation, flexibility and choice still win out over mandating vacation time.

Younger working women tend to be more worried about the optics of taking time off

Two in five Americans have some anxieties about the optics of taking time off from work, worrying that time off will give the impression that they are not a hard worker.

Employed women and mothers are more likely than employed men and fathers to express this concern about taking time off. Young women, in particular, feel this way; one in two women under 40 worry that taking too much personal time may impact how people view their work ethic, far ahead of women over 40 and men in general.

Relatedly, research finds that women are more likely to face worker burnout than men.

How Americans get around?

During a typical week, nearly all Americans get around via car; this is true for people who live in urban and rural areas.

Other ways of getting around divide people based on where they live. Urban (36%) and suburban (31%) residents are twice as likely to walk as rural (15%) residents. Similarly, people in urban localities are twice as likely to take public transport (11%) in a typical week than those in suburban areas (4%). Only 1% of people living in rural America take public transit weekly.

Other ways of getting around, such as rideshare, biking, or taking a taxi, are not as common as driving, walking, or riding public transit.

Americans want to improve road conditions, but they don’t want to add new highways

Most people, nearly nine in ten, want to improve road conditions in their community, regardless of whether they primarily drive, use some other form of public transit, or walk in a typical week.

Even while this is true, few want to add new highways. For drivers, about one in three support adding new highways to their area. People who walk or take public transit also register similar, low levels of support for highway additions.

On the other hand, a majority of Americans, regardless of how they get around, support expanding and upgrading other forms of transportation, including creating or improving public transit; redesigning communities to be friendlier to pedestrians and minimize car traffic; and adding more bike lanes.

The author(s)

  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs