Posts Tagged ‘labor’

Why Americans Don’t Vacation

Folks are sprucing up RVs, parents are packing kids’ camp gear, airlines are adding flights, and hotels are raising prices. The summer vacationers are coming.

Yosemite Falls 1902 – LC-USZ62-9731

What seems like a flood to us, however, is a trickle compared to the tsunami of holidaymakers in Europe, as anyone who has been sardined into a European train, plane, or lane at the beginning of July and August knows. On a recent summer day in Dubrovnik, I’ve been told, five cruise ships’ worth of tour groups created such a pedestrian gridlock that police had to unknot the crowd.

Americans just don’t vacation like other people do.

Why? — See the rest of this column at the Boston Review: The Leisure Gap.

             Update (Sept. 1, 2014):  An analysis on Vox claims that there has been a tremendous drop in the percent of American workers who take week-long vacations, from about 80% around 1980 to about 55% in 2014.  Update (Sept. 12, 2014): An analysis by Daniel S. Hamermesh and Elena Stancanelli reveals that, other things being equal, including total hours worked, Americans are likelier than people in several other OECD nations to work “strange” hours — i.e., nights or weekends. This appears to testify to the relative weakness of employees in the American labor market.


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Labor’s Laboring Efforts

The past Labor Day weekend stimulated thoughts of – besides cookouts and the end of summer – the fate of labor in America.

(My parents' union.)

This year has not been particularly good for labor with unemployment so high. The last few decades have not been particularly good with most Americans’ wages having stagnated since about 1970. And the last half-century has not been particularly good for the labor movement, with membership declining since about 1960.

Historians and sociologists have tried to figure out for many years now why union membership in the United States is so low – now about one-eighth of the employed– compared to elsewhere in the world and why it has dropped so far – down from about one-third in 1955. The answers seem to lie in economics, globalization, and politics. And lurking behind the politics may be something about Americanism itself that goes back much further than 1955.


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