Where do you stand? The average U.S. worker spends more than half the day standing

Where do you stand? The average U.S. worker spends more than half the day standing

Matt Crawford
By Matt Crawford
Jan 19, 2021
6 min read

Have you ever finished the day with aching feet, a sore back and tired muscles? Or maybe you end your day with a stiff neck and shoulders from being hunched over a desk for hours at a time?

The way you feel when it’s time to call it quits at the end of the day probably depends on the type of work you do regularly.

American workers spend an average of 57% of their workday on their feet, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 But few people spend their time evenly divided between sitting and standing. 

Most workers either stand or sit for the majority of the day.

So, who spends most of the day on their feet, and who spends most of the day chained to a desk? Let’s take a look.

Top standing jobs

Have you ever been to a restaurant and watched servers, food runners and busboys rushing by and wondered if they ever get a minute to sit down? The answer is no. 

Food prep workers and servers topped the list of occupations for workers who stand the most. Employees in this industry spend a paltry 2.4% of their workday sitting.2

But they’re not the only employees who spend the majority of the day on their feet.

Here’s a list of the top 10 occupations where workers spend the most time standing.3

Occupation% of workday standing
1Food preparation and serving97.6
2Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance86.2
4Construction and extraction80.7
5Installation, maintenance and repair79.9
6Farming, fishing and forestry78.0
7Personal care and service76.0
8Healthcare support71.0
9Sales and related68.8
10Healthcare practitioners and technical64.5

Top sitting jobs

If you spend most of your day standing, you may long for a job where you can sit down. But be careful what you wish for. 

Research shows that sitting for extended periods can harm your health, and it increases your risk for vascular problems, musculoskeletal issues, heart disease, obesity and cancer.4

If you sit more often than you’d like while at work, it’s important to find ways to incorporate movement into your days. Technology makes it easier than ever to remind yourself to get up and get moving.

Consider setting a timer on your watch or phone, so you remember to get up and move every hour or two.

It probably comes as no surprise that office workers with varying types of desk jobs top the list of those who stand the least.

Here are the top 10 jobs where people spend the most time sitting.5

Occupation% of workday sitting
1Computer and mathematical87.1
2Business and financial operations85.9
4Office and administrative support78.3
5Architecture and engineering73.3
7Community and social service66.2
8Arts, design, sports and media66.0
9Life, physical and social science64.2
10Protective service45.8

Sitting vs. standing: What it means for small business insurance

No matter what type of business you run, having adequate insurance can help minimize your out-of-pocket costs due to theft, property damage, lawsuits, workplace injuries and more. 

If you have a business where your employees stand most of the day, you can expect to pay more for business insurance than your counterparts in sit down jobs. That’s because workers in these types of jobs not only spend more time on their feet, they also perform tasks and use tools and equipment that increase their risk. 

After all, it’s hard to paint a house or fix leaky pipes when you’re sitting behind a desk.

Six of the top 10 private industry jobs with the largest number of workplace injuries and illnesses6 are among the top 10 occupations where workers stand most of the day.

Sometimes insurance is required for industry with more standing workers

General contractors, handymen, painters, plumbers and other construction trades often need to have active insurance to get licensed in the state where they work. And even if purchasing insurance isn’t a legal requirement, many clients will ask to see a certificate of insurance before they’ll hire you.

On the flip side, if you and your employees have desk jobs, don’t think you can skimp on insurance coverage.

Even if the risk of injury is lower, accidents can still happen. And sitting at a desk won’t stop someone from suing you if they think you were negligent or made a mistake that cost them money.

Get the protection you need from Next Insurance

Whether you or your employees are sitting, standing, climbing a ladder, walking or driving, having adequate insurance is essential for protecting your business’s bottom line. Without it, a single claim could cost your business thousands of dollars.

At Next, we provide customized insurance packages to give you the coverage you need for your business’s specific exposures. Our small business insurance packages include:

General liability. Helps protect you if you’re held responsible for a third-party injury or property damage.

Workers’ compensation. Provides compensation to employees who experience a workplace injury or illness.

Commercial auto. Covers you if you’re in an accident while driving a work vehicle.

Professional liability insurance (also known as E&O insurance). Helps pay for legal costs, court fees and judgments if you’re sued by a client for negligence or making a mistake that negatively affects their business.

Tools and equipment. Covers the cost to repair or replace equipment if it’s damaged, lost or stolen.

Our streamlined online application makes it easy to get a quote, compare policies, purchase insurance and receive your certificate of insurance — all in about 10 minutes.

Not sure what type or how much coverage your business needs? Our licensed, U.S.-based insurance advisors are ready to help.

Get an instant quote today.

1.  https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/civilian-workers-spent-an-average-of-57-3-percent-of-the-workday-standing-in-2020.htm

2.  https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/civilian-workers-spent-an-average-of-57-3-percent-of-the-workday-standing-in-2020.htm

3.  https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/civilian-workers-spent-an-average-of-57-3-percent-of-the-workday-standing-in-2020.htm

4.  Why Is Sitting so Bad for Us? > News > Yale Medicine

5.  https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/civilian-workers-spent-an-average-of-57-3-percent-of-the-workday-standing-in-2020.htm

6.  https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-workplace-safety-workers-comp

Where do you stand? The average U.S. worker spends more than half the day standing


matt crawford
About the author

Matt Crawford leads NEXT's content team. He's a small business insurance specialist and has worked with business owners throughout his career as a community journalist and content marketer.

You can find him at one of his many favorite local restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area when he's not at work.

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