The Hardest Working Cities in America

A real estate website determines which U.S. cities have the hardest workers.

Hardest working cities composite -- San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Seattle
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Hard work is the national ethos, but which city in the nation embodies that ethos the best? In plain speak, what's the hardest-working city in the United States, and what criteria makes it so?

Real estate website Movoto.com answers that question, although it does so in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

On its blog, the company regularly releases "Big Deal Lists" – city-centered rankings on cocktail-chatter topics such as "The 10 Worst Dressed Cities," "The 10 Nerdiest Cities in America" or "Discover the 10 Least Hipster Cities in the Country," and one of its most recent lists determines "The 50 Hardest Working Cities in America." Movoto applies unique algorithms for each list; to rank the 50 hardest-working cities, it drew from seven components referred to as the "elbow grease." "Much of the time our stories have a light sense of humor to them, but still, it's interesting to look at hard data and use it to report on something lighthearted," says Travis Sawrie, the online and public relations associate for the blog. "Our goal is to spark conversation."

Data was collected for the seven criteria – average hours worked per week, unemployment rate, commute time, employed workers per household, hours volunteered per year, lack of sleep and cost of living – from sources ranging from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the Volunteering and Civic Life in America website (VolunteeringinAmerica.gov) to SleepBetter.org, a website owned by Carpenter, a pillow manufacturing company. "We didn't pick these seven components willy nilly," says David Cross, content editor for Movoto Real Estate. "My team and I discussed them and thought hard of how and what to use. For instance, there's an obvious correlation between unemployment rate and the number of hours working and how hard people might be working."

Cross and the Movoto team calculated the average of all seven components, then ranked the cities from the lowest to highest overall average score. Here are a few highlights:

[See: The 10 Hardest Working Cities in America.]

The Emerald City Has the Hardest Workers

The Movoto study names Seattle as the hardest-working city in the United States, largely due to a consistently low unemployment rate (5.5 percent in June, the BLS reports). But the city’s workers are also considered industrious for other (surprising) factors, like sleeplessness: SleepBetter.org’s Sleepless City Index reports that the Seattle and Tacoma, Wash. metropolitan area residents don’t receive a full night’s rest approximately eight days of each month. SleepBetter.org doesn’t specify how many hours of sleep are recommended, but several medical sources, including the Mayo Clinic, recommend adults receive seven to eight hours each night. Seattleites could be losing shut-eye because they’re pulling long hours at Seattle-based companies like Amazon and Getty Images, or perhaps because they’re just stressed. “We decided to include average sleep [in the study], thinking along stress lines,” Cross says. “I know I’ve woken up in the middle of the night because I was stressed with work projects.”

[See: The 100 Best Jobs.]

Don't Mess With Texans ... They're Working Hard

Five Texas cities make the top 10, although three of them are neighbors. In June, the unemployment rate for the cities of Arlington, Dallas and Fort Worth – collectively referred to as the Metroplex – was 6.3 percent, lower than the national average of 7.6 percent for that same month. Plus, employees in those three cities work an average of 37 hours each week. The Metroplex area is also home to several prominent information technology companies, including Texas Instruments and AT&T. Arlington, Dallas and Fort Worth rank in second, third and seventh place, respectively, on Movoto's list. Workers in the state's capital also receive a shoutout – Austin earns the No. 4 spot. And Houston, the No. 10 hardest-working city, clocks in the most face time – the BLS finds Houstonians work an average of 37.6 hours each week.