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Woah! Time Off!!

Why Extreme Inequality Matters

The site above, although really poorly put together for effective reading, is shocking in it’s facts.

Here is the section that I am just … ugh… about.

. . . the less leisure time for average Americans.

Americans with full-time jobs now average 3.9 weeks a year in vacation and paid holidays combined, notes a statistical round-up from the Economic Policy Institute.

Workers in Germany, Italy, Austria, Denmark, and the Netherlands average nearly twice as much paid time off a year. In Ireland, the European country with the least vacation and holiday time, full-time workers still have nearly two more paid weeks off from work than American full-time workers.

Time off from work stats offer one of the best yardsticks for measuring power dynamics within a society. In societies where wealth — and power — concentrate at the top, average working people invariably have less political and economic clout, less of an ability to win time off, either via legislation or at the bargaining table.

In the United States, the developed world’s most unequal nation, no laws guarantee full-time workers a minimum number of vacation weeks a year. In Europe, Germany, Italy, the UK, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands, statutes guarantee full-time workers at least four vacation weeks a year.

France, Denmark, Austria, and Sweden guarantee full-time workers, by law, at least five weeks vacation.

In societies that encourage wealth concentration at the top, notes research published in the Economic Journal, average people work longer hours than their counterparts in more equal nations. Workers in the United States, the developed world’s most unequal nation, worked 450 more hours on average in 2000 than workers in the substantially more equal nations of Sweden, Germany, and Netherlands. Samuel Bowles and Yongjin Park, authors of this new research, trace rat-race pressures to the “desire to emulate” the consumption standards set by the awesomely affluent.

Two-parent Ohio families, adds a 2007 study from Policy Matters Ohio, are working 17 percent more hours — over 12 extra weeks a work a year — than they did back in 1979. But they don’t have much to show for that labor. Incomes for average Ohio families — the middle 20 percent of the state’s households — have dipped, after inflation, from $37,489 to $37,400 since 1988.

Over those same years, the average incomes of Ohio’s wealthiest 1 percent have soared over 40 percent, to $986,000.

This was also interesting :

Might workers have a reason to feel disengaged? Research from DolmatConnell & Partners, a management pay consultancy, reports that profits for corporations in the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 284 percent from 1997 through 2006, with CEO pay at those companies up 308 percent. The “general workforce,” notes DolmatConnell, “is not sharing in company financial gains,” creating a distinct “dichotomy of increasing pay at the top vs. stagnant pay below.” 

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