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How Many Working Days Are in a Year?

Close-up of white paper desk calendar with pages turning
Are you counting the workdays until the holidays? Pakin Songmor / Getty Images

Whether you are an employee or a small business owner, it can be helpful to calculate the number of working days in a year. Most people are familiar with the total number of days in a year: 365. But how many of those days are working days?

To answer this question requires some calculation, which can be fun for math-heads. But if numbers aren’t your strong suit, take heart: Yes, it’s math, but very straightforward math.

How Many Weekdays Are in a Year?

There are approximately 260 weekdays in a calendar year, which you arrive at by multiplying 52 (the number of weeks in a year) with 5 (the number of days that are part of the typical work week, globally speaking).

However, this does not necessarily mean there are 260 workdays in a calendar year year. We need to account for more variables to get a more precise answer.

How Does the Calendar Year Affect Working Days?

As you’ve probably noticed, not every month starts on the same day. And the same is true of years: it would be simple, perhaps, if every new year began on the first Sunday of the first month, but that’s not how it works in practice.

So to understand the exact number of working days in a year, we need to look at which weekday begins the year, and as well as the last day of the year.

  • In the year 2024, January first is a Monday. The last day of the year, December 31st, is a Tuesday. This means that the first and the last week of the year both have a Monday and Tuesday, which means that there are 53 of each: 53 Mondays, and 53 Tuesdays.

  • All of the other days of the week are the standard amount of 52.

  • We can add them all up thusly: 53 (Mondays) + 53 (Tuesdays) + 52 (Wednesdays) + 52 (Thursdays) + 52 (Fridays). This simple arithmetic gives us a result of 262.

  • Therefore, we can say that in 2024 we are starting with 262 potential work days.

Factoring in Leap Years

You might be asking about the strange, pesky things known as leap years. And this is an especially relevant question in 2024, since it is indeed a leap year.

A leap year is a year with an extra day. This is because Earth’s journey around the sun isn’t exactly 365 days; it’s actually more like 365.25. To accommodate this irregularity, every fourth year gets an extra day in February.

Of course, it all depends on what weekday that extra day falls on. In 2024, February 29th is a Thursday, which means there is one extra work day. However, that doesn't change our running tally because we already accounted for the Thursday in our count of the weekdays.

What Are the Federal Holidays?

In the United States, the federal government recognizes 11 public holidays (also known as bank holidays). While this doesn’t mean that every worker will have those days off, many businesses are closed on federal holidays. These days are as follows:

  • New Year’s Day: January 1

  • Martin Luther King’s Birthday: 3rd Monday in January

  • Washington’s Birthday: 3rd Monday in February

  • Memorial Day: last Monday in May

  • Juneteenth National Independence Day: June 19

  • Independence Day: July 4

  • Labor Day: 1st Monday in September

  • Columbus Day (sometimes observed as Indigenous Peoples' Day): 2nd Monday in October

  • Veterans’ Day: November 11

  • Thanksgiving Day: 4th Thursday in November

  • Christmas Day: December 25

It’s important to note that there are other holidays, such as Cesar Chavez Day, which are celebrated by some states but not by all. In the State of California, in 2024, Cesar Chavez Day falls on April 1st, and all schools and state offices are closed in observance of the labor and immigration rights leader.

If you subtract these from the total we calculated above, that would be:

262 – 11 = 251

So, assuming your business or job observes all federal holidays, you would have 251 working days. If you happened to live in California, and Cesar Chavez Day was one of your paid holidays, you'd have a nice, round 250 working days.

Adding Paid Time Off

Once you’ve calculated your baseline total of potential work days and subtracted the public holidays, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the total working days in a year.

But, few people will work every single one of those days. Most full time employees have an earned allotment of paid time off, which includes a certain amount of time for vacations, personal time and illness.

Without paid time off, hardly anyone would get to take a vacation, schedule an appointment at the doctor, or simply take some occasional time to rest and recuperate.

In the United States, many employees will have 10 to 14 paid vacation days after one year of employment. The average number of sick days available is eight.

Let’s say that your job offers 12 days of paid vacation and eight paid sick days. If you use all 12 vacation days, as well as four of those sick days, you will have 16 extra days that you won’t be working (12 + 4 = 16).

Note, however, that since these days are paid, you will technically be earning money on them, even though you won’t be at work.

How Many Working Days Are in Each Month?

Calculating the working days in different months is difficult to do with any predictability, since the beginning and ending of months fall on different days that change with each year.

So, while you can say with certainty that every January will have 31 days, the amount of working days will depend on what day of the week begins and ends the month.

In 2024, January starts on a Monday and ends on a Wednesday. That means that the month of January had 23 working days, not counting holidays.

Why Is It Helpful to Know the Number of Working Days in a Year?

Calculating the number of working days in a year has some distinct benefits, such as planning for a healthy work life balance. While many people are aware of the general figures — 52 weeks, 365 days, and so forth — you might not know the actual number of working days in a given calendar year, unless you’re working in the HR department.

Knowing these numbers helps in the following ways.

  • Planning ahead: When you know how many working days there are in a year, you can subtract that number from the total days in that year, giving you a sense of how many days you won’t be working. This allows you to plan your breaks, which is an important part of achieving a good work-life balance.

  • Calculating your annual income: Whether you are paid hourly or on salary, if you know the total working days available, you can calculate how much you will earn in a given calendar year.

  • Keeping track of yearly expenses: If you’re a business owner, or working in the human resources department of a company, knowing the number of working days in a year allows you to have a precise figure for the labor expenses you will incur.

How Many Working Hours Are There in a Year?

Calculating the average work hours in a year requires another simple equation. The standard work day is eight hours, with the standard weekly work hours being 40.

Therefore, if you want to know how many work hours there are in a year, start with the number of working days. If you multiply that figure by eight, giving you the total working hours.

If we’re starting from the previously calculated baseline of 251 working days in 2024, we can then make this calculation:

251 x 8 = 2008

That means that the average number of working hours in 2024 is 2,008.

Original article: How Many Working Days Are in a Year?

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