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Workin' hard for the money 

The Owl examined median family income earlier this week and showed that Albertans earn considerably more than households elsewhere in Canada. But just how many hours are spent each week at work to bring home those big paycheques?

In July, the average employee in Alberta worked approximately 32.2 hours, including overtime, a week, which is 5.9 per cent longer than the national average. According to Statistics Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador came in a close second at 32 hours, while workers in British Columbia had the shortest week, clocking 29.6 hours.

Perhaps even more interesting is how the workweek has changed over the last ten years. Albertans now work an extra hour and 20 minutes—or 4.2 per cent longer—than they did in July, 2003. That’s the second highest rate of increase among the provinces. Yet, across the country, the average employee worked about 30 minutes less per week over the same 10-year period.

The fact that Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador have the longest workweek is a reflection of the strong economies and the amount of overtime required. However, employees in New Brunswick rank third for working long hours even though the province has a high unemployment rate of 10.7 per cent. Employers may be requesting more overtime to avoid hiring more workers.

While logging a lot of hours at the office may be a badge of honour to some Albertans, it comes with distinct drawbacks. Workplace stress and illness may also be rising. The most productive employees are those who can balance work and life most appropriately—and for some that might mean working less. 

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