We often refer to the midday work break as the “lunch hour,” but our recent survey of 500 American workers shows not many people are taking advantage of that full hour anymore. So what has the workday lunch in America become? Our data uncovered some surprising trends, habits, and economics.
Industries with the longest lunch breaks include media and communications, insurance, and legal services, all averaging over 50 minutes per day. Workers in construction, healthcare, and food and beverage report the shortest lunch breaks, with food and beverage workers reporting an average of just over 30 minutes.
The survey also found that 90 percent of people buy lunch at least once per week, and that more women than men bring lunch to work. Of those who buy, six out of 10 spend less than $25 per week. Transportation tops industries with the most “bringers,” and food and beverage has the most “buyers.” Sadly, of the people who buy lunch frequently, 78 percent say they have less than five spots in their regular rotation.
While 67 percent of respondents say they spend less than $25 per week on lunch, the industries with the biggest spenders are education, legal services, and again, food and beverage. Retail workers and people in transportation are more frugal, on average.
Food isn’t the only priority for workers during their breaks. Those working in business and finance, legal services, and technology are most likely to use their lunchtime to handle tasks like mailing packages and going to the bank.
Many people are making time for sleep. One-third of workers admit to sometimes napping during lunch breaks, with the highest percentage of nappers hailing from the southeast. Also, more Millennials say they nap at lunch, compared with older generations.