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America: The Vacation-Less Nation

Career News August 1, 2013

Summer is about to end, school is getting ready to start, and fall is looming. At least you had a marvelous and relaxing vacation before your life kicks back into high gear. Wait, you did not get a vacation? Had too much work to complete? You are not alone!

It depends on how people look at the numbers, Americans are some of the most dedicated and industrious workers, or we are profoundly overworked, our brains are stress-fried and in desperate need of some time away from the office. Or maybe it is both.

There is no doubt that people in the United States put in their hours; according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, Americans work 1,741 hours per year. Of the twenty countries involved in the analysis, only five (Japan, Italy, Czech Republic, Korea, and Singapore) worked more hours annually.

Americans are productive with their hours. In 2010, according to the BLS numbers, the United States has the second highest gross domestic product (GDP) per hour worked; only Norway was higher.

What this means is the average American deserves a vacation, but the facts clearly states that we do not take enough time off. A poll conducted by Harris Interactive over the past year has discovered that fifty-seven percent of American workers had a minimum of two weeks of unused vacation time at the end of 2012. Additionally, Harris poll recently reported that over half of those who have decided to go on vacation will still have to work during their “time off.”

Why are we like this? Why are we reluctant to turn off our cellular device, laptops, etc. and head out to the beach? It is partly due to our culture; individuals in the United States do not put the same premium towards vacation time compared to other countries.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the law requires that workers in France receive thirty days of paid leave annually. Sweden, Norway, and Finland provide their workers with twenty-five days of mandated annual leave.

On the other hand, the United States does not have a paid leave requirement. Typically, employers will provide holidays and paid vacation to their employees as part of a benefits package. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American workers received an average of ten paid vacation days and eight paid holidays.

According to the BLS, if an American worker wants to get as many paid holidays as most other industrialized nations, he or she would have to stay employed in the same company for twenty years.

If we are getting results and working hard, why should we care about having a lack of vacation time? Research has shown that vacationing offers a variety of benefits, such as reducing stress and improving health to enhance workplace productivity and relationships.

Convinced? It is not late to plan your winter getaway with your friends and family. Hawaii is usually lovely around this time of year.

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