Millennium Predictions That Were Hilariously Wrong

Business people having fun on vacation
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No matter how hard work seems today, it used to be tougher. After all, it's not as though minimum wages, safety regulations, anti-discrimination laws, and the many other things that make the office or factory or sales floor far more manageable than had been back in the 19th century are of ancient origin.

But it's also not as easy and delightful as pundits in decades past thought it would be. Whether it was the amount of time people would be logging at work or the conditions they'd face there, the "futurists" made some hilariously-wrong predictions for the 2000s. Here are some of the prognostications that were wildly off (and perhaps might give you reason to question the predictions for 2030).

People would work only two days a week.
There was a time when a 40-hour full-time work week seemed like a dream. People in the U.S. routinely worked 6 days a week. But the Ford Motor Company pioneered the 5-day week in 1922, as the History Channel Reports. The 40-hour week became law in 1938, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Ah, but back in the 1930s, noted economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that eventually people would work a 15-hour week, as CNNMoney notes. People would work roughly two days each and then face the problem of what to do with their leisure time.

Clearly that didn't happen, and what to do with leisure time became clear: mow the lawn, get the kids to soccer, or even work another job because of the lack of middle class economic growth, as former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich told

However, the work week has grown shorter over time, probably because of an increasing trend to part-time employment. Statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development show that in 2000, the average number of annual working hours in the U.S. was 1836, or about 36.72 hours a week, if you take out two weeks of vacation. Last year, the number dropped to 1790, or 35.8 hours a week.

American workers would enjoy 7 weeks of vacation a year
Speaking of two weeks of vacation, to some, that's still the standard. Many people, though, either don't get that much or can't take it all together. What did experts in the past think? Try 7 weeks, according to CNNMoney. In this case, the prognostication came from a Senate subcommittee in 1965, which thought that by the year 2000, we'd all have that much time off a year.

Greater productivity from technology got channeled back into businesses, rather than passed on to workers, at least domestically. The same isn't true everywhere. The European Union, for instance, requires that workers get at least 20 days a year of paid leave, according to Time. But that's the bottom end. The average is 25 to 30 days, or 5 to 6 weeks, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Virtually no one would need sick days.
Paid sick days are one of those great benefits when you are heavily under the weather. However, what if you didn't need any sick days? That's what the situation should have been, had medical experts been right in their day. Nearly all diseases would have been cured by 2000, according to Dr. James Bryant Conant, the president of Harvard University, as reported. Most people would be well and at work.

The letters 'c,' 'x' and 'q' would disappear
Typing, writing, and spelling would be easier because there would be fewer letters to keep track of. According to an article in a 1900 issue of The Ladies Home Journal, as reported by the BBC, the letters c, x, and q would be "abandoned because unnecessary." What a capital and exemplary quest.

Women would stay in the home
As you rack up the bloopers, though, the biggest had to belong to David Riesman, a sociologist who taught at Harvard. According to the Los Angeles Times, Riesman said in a Time article in 1967 that "if anything remains more or less unchanged, it will be the role of women." Uh, yeah, which actually means no in this case. And he managed to say this right at the time that the women's movement was expanding.

But all sorts of people got the status of women wrong at that time. After all, there was the person who in a 1973 television interview said, "I don't think there will be a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime." That was Margaret Thatcher, according to the Margaret Thatcher Foundation.
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