How Americans’ Lives Have Turned Into All Work And No Play, In 3 Charts

CREDIT: Shutterstock

American workers are putting in more and more hours each week, as the supposedly 40-hour workweek has stretched to 47 hours. At the same time, they’re getting very little paid time off of work to recharge.

Just 12 percent of people who work in the private sector get paid family leave benefits, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even worse, low-income workers, who are least likely to be able to afford to take time off, have less access to paid leave.

American employers are more likely to give their workers paid sick days, vacation days, or holidays. Even so, it’s not universal: 23 percent of workers don’t get paid vacation time, 24 don’t get paid holidays, and nearly 40 percent don’t get paid sick leave.

Even those who get this time off are getting less of it. The average worker who gets paid vacation time gets 10 days off, compared to 15 last year. And someone who gets paid sick leave gets six days of it, compared to eight last year.


CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos/ThinkProgress

The United States is very lonely when it comes to the fact that it doesn’t require paid maternity leave. Out of 185 countries, just the U.S., Oman, and Papua New Guinea don’t guarantee that mothers can take paid time off when a new child arrives. Seventy countries also guarantee that fathers can take paid time off. Instead, the U.S. only requires that workers be given 12 unpaid weeks. Just three states have enacted paid family leave programs and a federal bill has been introduced, but so far it hasn’t gone anywhere.

The country is also lonely in its lack of a guarantee that workers can get paid sick days or holiday and vacation time. It’s the only country out of 22 developed peers that doesn’t require paid sick leave and the only one out of 21 that doesn’t require paid vacations and holidays. The European Union requires 20 paid vacation days and France, for example, requires 30.

Fifteen paid sick leave laws have been passed in the U.S., but just one state, Connecticut, requires employers to offer paid days when someone falls ill. And only one state, Washington, has even considered enacting a minimum requirement of paid vacation days.