A recent ABC News article stated that “economic recovery apparently comes with one very unpleasant side effect: traffic.” According to a study released by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute(TTI) and INRIX yesterday, the average American spends 42 hours a year sitting in traffic, resulting in $160 billion in wasted time and fuel last year. This seems like a horrific waste of time and money, but it pales in comparison to the amount we waste simply dealing with email.
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Toward the end of the global financial crisis in 2009, the Radicati Group released its first Email Statistics Report, projecting an increase from 1.4 billion email users in 2009 to 1.9 billion in 2013. This healthy trend shows no sign of slowing, with the number of active users in 2015 reaching 2.6 billion, and a further 300 million projected for 2019.
Now what has this got to do with wasting time and money? Well, with more active users comes more email – Radicati’s report for 2015 found that the number of emails sent and received per day totals over 200 billion and that number is only growing. Naturally, more email means more time spent dealing with it:
The 2009 Email Statistics Report stated that the average corporate worker spends a quarter of his or her work day on email-related tasks. That is 2 hours per day or 425 hours per year on average. This means that a whopping 10 times more hours a year are wasted on email than sitting in traffic. Assuming a salary of around $50,000 per year, this means that companies are spending $12,500 a year, per employee, on email activities alone. According to FRED research, over 142,000,000 people are currently employed in the United States. This means that over $443 billion dollars a year are spent on email, or 250% more than is spent on sitting in traffic.
Even if it were legal to catch up on emails while sitting in traffic each morning, you wouldn’t even touch a tenth of your daily email.
So, with the economic recovery from the latest US recession complete, and the resulting increase in annual hours worked, the time we spend dealing with email is on the up. It seems that economic recovery has many more unpleasant side effects than just traffic. Sure, traffic can be a total pain, but its effects on the US economy are a mere drop in the ocean compared to the financial time suck that is email.