Momentum is building around a four-day workweek, especially as the California state legislature has introduced a law to create one. Job posting data show that only a small sliver of employers are advertising four-day workweeks– but that number is rising dramatically.
Among all occupations, the number of job postings in the US mentioning a four-day workweek has risen 673% over the past three years.
To be clear, these postings still make up a small proportion of the overall job market, at 0.31% in March 2022, and they include some jobs that still maintain 40-hour weeks over longer shifts. However, such a sharp increase in postings over a relatively short period of time indicates that the number of jobs offering three days off every week could soon grow even further.
Proponents of the law in California argue it will boost productivity by reducing stress and burnout, while also decreasing emissions from commutes and worker costs from childcare. A Qualitrics survey of over 1,000 US workers showed 92% supported a four-day workweek, with 79% saying it would improve their mental health and 82% saying it would make them more productive.
In addition, some employers argue that they have to offer more flexibility to attract workers, including rethinking the traditional work schedule. Some California companies, such as finance startup Bolt, have already made the shift to a four-day week after a trial period in autumn 2021—on Twitter, its founder said “I believe a four-day workweek isn’t an ‘if’ for most companies, it’s a ‘when.’” Several countries have also implemented their own pilot four-day programs, including Iceland, which ran an extensive trial from 2015 to 2019. Researchers called Iceland’s experiment “an overwhelming success.”
A nonprofit group, 4 Day Week Global, promotes the concept by helping organize similar pilot programs, and says it has organized 38 companies in the US, with a combined workforce of approximately 10,000, to take part this year.
Most of those initiatives are focused on white-collar or information-sector jobs (one of the biggest brands involved is the crowdfunding site Kickstarter). Yet Lightcast data show that a significant majority of job postings mentioning a four-day workweek are for occupations that do not require a bachelor’s degree—the number of occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree or more saw a 85% increase in postings, while those requiring less than a BA saw a 1035% increase.
Occupations seeing the largest increases in four-day workweek postings are oriented toward supply chains and logistics.
The states with the highest shares of four-day postings are slightly concentrated in the South, but generally spread out evenly throughout the US. (The state with the lowest share was Wyoming, with 0.4%).
The employer generating the most new four-day job postings was Amazon—from October 2018 to March 2019, just two of their 33,900 job postings mentioned working four days (a share of 0.00006%).
From October 2021 to March 2022, 55,303 of Amazon’s 187,454 job postings specifically mention a four-day workweek—29.5% of its total postings. Some of those jobs list a four-day week as the standard, while others list it as an option or perk.
Amazon’s dominant position in the labor market—our data show it is the third-biggest employer in the US, and it creates the most job postings—shows its influence over larger hiring trends. In other words, if Amazon is shortening its workweek, it’s more likely others may follow.
The huge proportional gain in four-day postings also speaks to its momentum. Whether the law in California passes or not, it has introduced the topic into the national conversation around work and its future. Even if governments don’t mandate four-day weeks, companies can still implement them and offer them as perks to workers—and the ongoing talent shortage means employers are offering more and more benefits as they become increasingly desperate to find the talent they need.
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