NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Americans may be spending more time at work, but they're also becoming much less productive. Workplace productivity dropped 0.3% in the second quarter, following a decline of 0.6% in the first three months of the year, according to the Labor Department. It was the first back-to-back decline in productivity since the second half of 2008.What gets the blame? Based on a series of studies from various research groups, federal agencies and nonprofit organizations, it could be any number of things, from sporting events to medical ailments to a variety of vices. (One thing it totally isn't: Internet surfing, which one study found actually makes employees more productive. Go figure.)
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Estimated Losses: More than $192 million
According to a report from outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an estimated 8.4 million work hours are lost to the annual three-week college basketball tournament held in March. Challenger got the figure by multiplying the 8.4 million work hours lost to game-watching and bracket-making -- based on traffic statistics from CBSSports.com -- by $22.87, the average hourly earnings for private-sector workers. The figures may look steep, but they're not terrible when you consider the bigger picture. "Over the three weeks of the tournament, the nation's 108 million workers will have logged more than 11 billion hours of work," Challenger said. "The 8.4 million hours lost to March Madness is a relative drop in the bucket, accounting for less than one-tenth of 1% (about 0.07%) of the total hours American workers will put in over the three weeks of the tournament." 2. Flight delays
Estimated Losses: $4 billion
Back in 2010, a report commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration discovered that flight delays cost the U.S. workforce $4 billion in time wasted. The fact that these delays also cost consumers $16.7 billion of their own money and airlines $8 billion of theirs may have contributed to the introduction of laws concerning how long airlines are allowed to keep planes on the tarmac, though the FAA has yet to report on savings. 3. Fantasy football
Estimated losses: $9.2 billion a year
March Madness isn't the only sporting event Challenger, Gray & Christmas has measured in terms of lost workplace productivity. Back in 2008, the firm put out a report that said fantasy football would cost employers $9.2 billion. The stat was based on Fantasy Sports Trade Association estimates of average team owners' salaries ($80,000) and hours spent running a team during the week (1.19). The firm estimated that fantasy football cost companies $45.22 per week per player. Since then, however, Challenger has softened its stance on fantasy football in the workplace. "It is difficult for companies to take a hard-line stance against fantasy football," Challenger said in a blog post. "The Internet technology that helped fuel the rapid growth of fantasy football participation and makes it possible to manage teams from one's desk also makes it possible for employees to attend to work duties during their personal time."