Last year, CNN Money did a survey on the 10 hardest working countries. The U.S. was ranked seventh, behind Poland, Russian Foundation, Estonia, Korea, Chile and Mexico.
Mexicans averaged 45 hours a week, the most of any industrialized nation and about 519 hours more than the typical American worker each year. Their average annual wages was $9,885, only a fifth of what Americans earn ($54,450). The average Russian worker, which earns just $15,286, puts in 200 more work hours each year than an American.
There are few bright spots on the U.S. job market. According to CNS News, there are over one million fewer people working today than there were six years ago and, according to CNN/Money, the labor participation rate is at its lowest since 1978, when Jimmy Carter was president.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates The Affordable Care Act is going to cost an additional 2.5 million U.S. jobs. The White House has tried to put a positive spin on this, saying you'll no longer be "trapped in a job", just relax and be able to spend more time with the family.
Countering this viewpoint on the American worker is a powerful new video called "I Am a Factory." Produced by Walmart, it describes work as a noble undertaking that once made us proud.
"At one time I made things and I took pride in the things I made, and my belts whirred, and my engines cranked," says narrator Mike Rowe in his monologue against a factory backdrop. "I opened my doors to all and together we filled pallets and trucks. I was mighty. And then one day the gears stopped turning.
"But I am still here and I believe I will rise again," he continues. "And we will build things, and build families and build dreams. It's time to get back to what America does best. Because work is a beautiful thing."
The commercial ends with a text: "Over the next ten years, we're putting $250 billion to work to help create new manufacturing jobs in America."
The video has has gone viral on YouTube. For those of us who still have pride in the American worker, that's a good thing.
By Jim Zbick