The eight-hour workday, or the 40-hour workweek, didn't become the modern labor standard by accident.
Back when the government first tracked workers' hours in 1890, full-time manufacturing employees worked a backbreaking 100 hours each week. Years of pressure from laborer organizers, along with changes from companies like Ford Motor, reformed working conditions in the U.S. and protected workers from schedules that endangered their health and safety.
Recent data indicates that the typical American worker is no longer adhering to an eight-hour workday. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 44 hours per week, or 8.8 hours per day. A 2014 national Gallup poll put the average number at 47 hours per week, or 9.4 hours per day, with many saying they work 50 hours per week.
In demanding, competitive industries like tech and finance, professionals work in excess of 60 hours a week as a rule, and are available constantly by smartphone. A recent Bloomberg Businessweek story highlighted American factories where employees work upwards of 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week.
In a time when Americans are working more than ever before and taking less time off, it's helpful to see how the U.S. arrived at its "standard" workday.