The Case for Paid Vacation
At a glance: Some quick facts about paid vacation
Compared with other countries:
- The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a minimum annual leave statute.137 countries have paid vacation leave, including all developed countries.
- In 1980 we ranked 11th in the world in longevity–now we're 42nd.
- We're twice as likely as Europeans to suffer from anxiety and depression. Many experts believe these deficits are caused by lack of time.
Americans are taking fewer (and shorter) vacations:
- PEW Research Center says "more free time" is the number one priority for middle-class Americans–68% listed this as a high priority for them.
- Last year only 14% of American workers took two weeks or more for vacation.
- According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works one month (160 hours) more today than in 1976.
- Last year only 57% of American workers took a vacation of a week or longer.
- 25% of Americans receive no paid vacation leave. Only 69% of lower-wage workers get any paid vacation leave.
- 37% of American women earning less than $40,000 a year receive no paid annual leave.
Just for the Health of It!
- Men who don't take regular vacations are 32% more likely to die of heart attacks, and 21% more likely to die early of all causes. Women who don't take vacations have 50% more risk of heart attack.
- Stress and burnout are five times more costly to treat than average workplace maladies.
- Women who don't take vacations are twice as likely to be depressed as those who do.
Vacations are good for businesses too!
- Vacations have been shown to eliminate burnout, but it takes at least two weeks off.
- The travel industry adds $740 billion dollars a year to the US economy
- Stress and burnout at work cost the US economy over $300 billion a year.
- Companies that have adopted the vacation benefits endorsed here have dramatically increased productivity and profits.
- Paid vacations, after health care, are the benefits most appreciated by workers
- A New Zealand study found that workers sleep better after taking vacations and are 30-40% more alert on the job when they return.
Have We Forsaken The Great Outdoors? The forest service is actually closing campgrounds because no one is using them. The average visitor to Yosemite used to spend 48 hours there. Now it's 8. Our children spend only half as much unstructured time outdoors as they did a generation ago.
A Department of Labor appointed Committee on Vacations with Pay called for a national minimum paid leave law as far back as 70 years ago.