Energy Costs Push Utah to Move to Four-Day Workweek

By Staff Report

Jun. 27, 2008

Soaring energy costs have prompted Utah to announce it is moving to a four-day workweek, making it the first state in the nation to do so.

With gas prices racing past $4 a gallon creating an unprecedented burden on many workers, on June 26, Gov. Jon Huntsman announced the Working 4 Utah initiative. Beginning in August, state government service hours will be extended from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. State administrative offices will be closed on Fridays, with the exception of essential public services.

“We live in a dynamic, ever-changing environment and it’s crucial that we take a serious look at how we can adapt and maintain our state’s unparalleled quality of life,” said Huntsman in a statement about the program.

Huntsman’s office estimates that 1,000 of 3,000 state buildings will be closed on Fridays, cutting energy costs by about 20 percent.

It’s only a matter of time before other state governments follow in Utah’s footsteps, says Susan Seitel, president of WFC Resources, a Minnetonka, Minnesota-based consulting firm.

“Minnesota is looking at this too,” she says. “This is absolutely the beginning of a trend.” 

Many state governments, as well as companies, recognize that moving to a four-day workweek not only helps save energy costs but also appeals to younger workers, she says.

It solves so many problems—it reduces the carbon footprint, saves on commuting costs, makes companies look more responsible and gives people more flexibility,” Seitel says.

Utah will evaluate the initiative for a year to allow for adjustments in the future.

—Jessica Marquez

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