How Much is Tardiness Costing the American Economy?

Look, we’ve all been late to work. A flat tire, a broken alarm clock, and many other factors can just make it difficult to get into the office on time.

There are plenty of valid excuses, but how late are we as a country? Well, to answer this question, we surveyed 2,750 U.S. workers and broke down their tardiness trends by state. We also did the math to figure out just how much each late worker is costing the economy.

For instance, workers in Montana are 3.8 minutes late per week and cost the economy $40.61 per year. Workers in Wyoming might want to get a second alarm clock because they are 12.8 minutes late each week and cost the economy $158.61 each year. This may not seem like a lot but, when we add it all up, tardiness costs the U.S. economy near $3 billion dollars each year!

To find out how late each state is, scroll across our infographic below. Then, keep reading to find out exactly why we’re all so late!

Created by Mattress Clarity


Why Are We Late?

As I mentioned above, worker tardiness varies depending on the state. It also varies depending on age. For instance, a YouGov poll found that millennial workers had more trouble showing up to work on time when compared to workers over 55. 22% of millennials reported that they were late once a week, but only 15% of those over 55 reported any tardiness. What’s more, 38% of millennials said they were never late, and 55% of workers over 55 said they were always on time.

Having children can also have an effect on a worker’s punctuality. The survey found that only 18% of working parents were late because they slept past their alarm, but 43% of this group were late because they were getting their family ready for the day.

Based on a survey of 3,008 workers and 2,201 hiring managers, Career Builder compiled a list of the most common excuses for tardiness. 7% of respondents blamed bad weather for their lateness, and 8% said public transportation was at fault. The two big winners were lack of sleep with 19% and traffic with a whopping 39%.

Now, these are just the most popular reasons people are late to work. Based on a different survey, Career Builder put together the most ridiculous, hilarious reasons people have given for being late. Here are just a few:

  • I put petroleum jelly in my eyes.
  • I thought Flag Day was a legal holiday.
  • My mother-in-law wouldn’t stop talking.
  • My dad offered to make me a grilled cheese sandwich, and I couldn’t say no.

Whatever the reasons, tardiness is a real problem and it has serious consequences. Yes, it does lose the company money, but it also negatively impacts morale and can customer satisfaction.

What Can We Do About Tardiness?

There are certain steps that employers can take to curb worker tardiness. Business experts recommend that managers and higher-ups address the issue without letting it become a habit. Then, in private, make it clear that the behavior is disappointing. Finally, make clear what the consequences will be if they are late again.

What can we as employees do to stop being late? If two of the main reasons for worker tardiness are traffic and sleeping too late, the simple answer would be to wake up earlier.

This is, of course, easier said than done, but it starts with practicing good sleep hygiene. If we are getting good, healthy sleep, waking up a bit early can be easy.

Here are a few things we can do to get the best sleep possible.

  • Make sure you are sleeping in a bedroom that is cool, dark, and quiet
  • Keep technology, such as light-emitting phones and tablets, out of the bedroom
  • Avoid drinking coffee or alcohol, especially closer to bedtime
  • Try to establish a regular sleep schedule
  • Find a comfortable mattress and pillow

If we prioritize sleep, those early Monday mornings won’t be quite as painful. We could even get to work early and really surprise the bosses!

Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site. He likes things simple and takes a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications. When he isn't testing sleep products, he enjoys working out, reading both fiction and non-fiction, and playing classical piano. He enjoys traveling as well, and not just to test out hotel mattresses! Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.