The work ethic is alive in America and has not declined in recent years, according to an analysis in the latest issue of the Labor Department's Monthly Labor Review.
The article, written by labor economist Janice Neipert Hedges, examined a series of studies on absenteeism, job turnover, overtime and average hours worked weekly.
It concluded that signs of weak job commitment, such as increased absences from work, had not increased in the last dozen years. In fact, it reported, the "desire for hours of work seems greater than the hours available."
Taking the various measures one by one, Hedges said research studies showed these results:
* There is no increase in rates of absence from work "that would support a thesis of weakening job commitment." Rates of absence for a variety of reasons such as claims of illness and injury, family responsibilities, transportation breakdowns and personal business have remained essentially unchanged or have fluctuated only slightly since the late 1960s.
* People quit jobs more because of opportunities for better pay or conditions than from any weakening of the work ethic.
* Between 1960 and 1979 the average weekly overtime per worker in production varied on a cyclical basis from 2.1 to 3.9 hours, but there was no trend in any one direction, and many workers had no option to reduce or increase their work hours.
"The cyclical pattern in overtime hours," according to the article, "suggests that business conditions rather than worker preferences determine the amount of overtime worked."
* Multiple job-holding, practiced by 5 percent of workers, declined among men but rose among women. Increases in rates of female employment "may have diminished the economic incentive for some husbands to hold more than one job."
* The 40-hour workweek remained the standard for the overwhelming majority of workers: 89 percent of full-time plant workers and 60 percent of full-time office workers in metropolitan areas in 1979-81 had a standard workweek of 40 hours or more.
"Schedules of fewer than 40 hours had gained a modest 4 percentage points since 1960-61, rising from 7 pecent to 11 percent of all full-time schedules in plants and from 35 percent to 39 percent in offices," the study said.
* In a 1978 survey, more than twice as many workers preferred additional hours and more earnings as favored less hours and lower earnings, The margin was 28 percent to 11 percent.
"Analysis of worktime offers little support, on the whole, for the thesis of weakening job commitment," the survey said.