Image: Businesswoman using laptop and telephone © Terry Vine, Blend Images, Getty Images
Hours? Schedules? Life balance? U.S. workers have no idea what any of the aforementioned words mean.

CNBC points to a Harris Interactive survey that indicates more than 91% of U.S. workers do work-related tasks on their personal time. Of those, 37% devote more than 10 off-the-clock hours to work each week.

Do Americans just take that much pride in their work and have some much ambition to spare that they can't imagine themselves slowing down for a second? Nope, they're just trying to keep their paychecks intact and their jobs secure.

Yet another survey by Gallup finds that since the economic crisis peaked in 2009, there's been no better time to exploit the U.S. workforce for longer hours and less pay.

A full 43% of U.S. workers are afraid they're going to have their benefits cut, down just slightly from 46% in 2009. Another 31% see a pay cut in their future, which is nearly the same as the 32% from four years earlier. Meanwhile, 29% are worried that they'll be laid off, which is a smaller percentage than the 32% in 2009, but still greater than the 26% who feared getting the ax in 2010.

In truth, U.S. workers absolutely hate their jobs. Roughly 52% of all full-time workers in the U.S. are not involved in their work and put only as much into it as they're forced to. Of those, 18% are "actively disengaged" and so bitter about their work that they're actively trying to sabotage the workplace and make life miserable for everyone else.

Why? Because they've watched their paychecks drop, the people around them get fired and the paychecks of the executive who run the place stay put through it all. The Labor Department says average wages are sliding. The economy has regained just 5.7 million of the 8.7 million jobs shed during the recession, but 65% of those jobs are low-wage. Never mind that nearly 60% of all jobs lost during the slump paid middle-income wages or better, according to the National Employment Law Project.

So, forget about all that "up-by-the-bootstrap​s" rhetoric and "pride-in-a-job-well​-done" puffery: In the U.S., 50% of workers are doing work on their vacation days just to make sure there's a job to go back to. If they're taking vacation days at all.

In an ideal world, they'd have no problem trading places with their counterparts in the U.K., only 34% of whom ever check in with the office while on holiday.

Americans aren't workaholics, they're work inmates hoping that better times will grant them release.

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