I'm an American. I have heard many pop culture references to a full-time job as a "9-to-5". However, an ordinary full-time job is typically clocked as eight hours a day starting from 8:00 AM and ending at 5 PM, with an hour subtracted for lunch.

Was a 9-to-5 ever really between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM? When did this change and why? Both Business.com and the Chicago Tribune have published articles opining on the loss of the (literal) 9-to-5. However, they don't describe when or who worked 9:00 to 5:00 or why this has changed.

Some commenters are asking how common this phrase is. Here are some references to establish the idea's notability. Based on the usage in songs in the 1970s and 1980s, I would suspect the idea was present in America at that time. However, neither me nor my social network were alive at that time which limits our ability to discern the truth.

  • Dolly Parton released a song in 1980 called "9 to 5" for a movie of the same name.
  • B.T.O. released a song in 1973 called "Taking Care of Business". Throughout the song the character attempts to get to work, taking the 8:15 bus to get to work by 9:00 AM.
  • Webster's Dictionary defines "9 to 5" as "a job with regular daytime hours".

In keeping with the wisdom in "Why did you stop beating your wife":

  • The event I am interested in is a transition from 9-to-5 as some kind of fulltime work norm versus 8-to-5. I suspect this happened in the 20th century, but I couldn't say when or why.
  • This does involve an assumption that there was ever a common 9-to-5 work schedule. I am unable to validate it beyond what I hear through pop culture, which is what brings me here. I am open to an answer which points out that this was never the case.
  • 1
    I've overwhelmingly heard it as 8 to 5, not 9 to 5. Maybe you're thinking of "banker's hours"? – jamesqf Dec 15 '16 at 19:36
  • 1
    Maybe this should go to the workplace stack – Ne Mo Dec 15 '16 at 19:47
  • 2
    @NeMo I don't think the question is good for Workplace. It is not really about a practical problem but a question of the history of the phrase. – called2voyage Dec 15 '16 at 20:08
  • 1
    @called2voyage - I might be, but I have definitely heard that people may have worked 9:00 to 5:00 in the past. I edited to include two (soft news) articles which also have this premise. So although I might be mistaken, I'm not the only one. – indigochild Dec 15 '16 at 21:07
  • 1
    It's the office hours in the rest of the west that don't quite have the messed up labour ethic of the U.S – Anaryl Dec 16 '16 at 8:05