Sunday, October 28, 2012

2007 - No-Vacation Nation Report by

No-Vacation Nation

Headercepr This report  (pdf format) was published in May 2007 by Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt for the Center for Economic and Policy Research. It confirms how the US lags behind all the other industrialized countries in terms of vacation time for the workers while about one fourth have no vacation time at all.

Email answer by John Schmitt
Dear Anne,

Thanks for your email and your interest in our paper "No-Vacation Nation."

The two questions you ask are very important, and you are right that we
don't answer them in the paper.

Why is the US in this situation? I think the short, if somewhat
unsatisfactory answer, is that we have lacked a strong labor movement
tied to a social democratic political party. The far superior welfare
state and labor market policies in France, and in most of the rest of
Europe, are a direct response to demands of organized labor articulated
and implemented largely through broadly social democratic political
parties. This answer is unsatisfactory, of course, because it begs the
question: why don't we have a strong labor movement and a serious social
democratic political party here?

Was this always the case? I haven't seen anything formal on this
question, but anecdotally, it sounds as though in the 1960s
working-class and middle-class men in the United States probably had
almost as much vacation as their European counterparts (though, again,
anecdotally, probably more than a bit less with respect to France). From
that point on, the vacation gap grew much bigger as Europeans tended to
take their productivity increases in more time off and workers in the
US, in principle, in higher wages. (The problem with this story for the
US is that after adjusting for inflation wages at the middle and the
bottom in the United States have been stagnant, even falling. So, US
workers seem to be getting neither more time off nor higher wages!)

Who benefits? US employers and highly paid workers in the United States
(corporate CEOs, corporate managers, lawyers, accountants, stock
brokers, etc.).

Thanks again for your interest.


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