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Vacation USA – Guest post

January 20, 2009

Special Guest Post from Southie Sham.

Today, given the day that’s in it, allow us to introduce a special guest blogger – Southie Sham. Southie’s our man in North Dakota in ‘A-Merry-Ka’ and is a Principle Investigator archaeologist. An Irishman, he’ll occasionally post his sometimes skewed thoughts on living in the New World and North American Archaeology.

Today – Vacation rights in the US.

A North Dakota homesteader

A North Dakota homesteader

Image borrowed from the progressive historians blog

At some point over the week spent in Ireland over the Christmas I recall having a conversation with someone (possibly myself) about the large number of public holidays here in the states, and how this somewhat makes up for the insanely small amount of paid holiday time that American workers enjoy. Well today I learned something interesting.

There are a number of declared federal holidays: Independence Day, Martin Luther King Day, Thanksgiving etc etc etc. In addition each State can declare it’s own holidays, for example in Rhode Island they are the last state to still celebrate Victory Over Japan Day on the second Monday in August.

But here’s the rub; it is the right of every company to decide which of these holidays, if any, it will observe. Now clearly, if a company were to decide to ignore Thanksgiving or Christmas there would be war, but many of the other declared state holidays are safely ignored. As I have only discovered. Apparently the over-riding consensus in North Dakota is that Martin Luther King Day is not worth celebrating. The schools, being federally controlled, all close, but that’s about it.

So yes, Americans have a lot of State holidays; but most American workers only get to enjoy about half of them. In other words, 5-6 days off in addition to their annual paid leave.

According to the Bureau of Labor (sic) Statistics, Americans work more hours than workers in any other industrialized country. In 2001 the average number of hours worked per week by Americans was just over 38. The next closest country was Mexico with an average of 35.8 week. The average number of hours per week for Americans with jobs classified as “professionals” or “managers” is 48. As opposed to 43 for the same group in Ireland. Long hours spent at work make US workers the most productive in the world. The Irish come in second. U.S. workers each produced $63,885 in value-added labor, compared to $55,986 by workers in Ireland. However in terms of value added per hour worked, many EU countries come out ahead of the US.  So apparently all work and no play makes Johnny Yank a dull boy.

Be that as it may, what all this means is that while some people in America are today marking a momentous change in American society, I have to work. Which, as my Fellow Americans might say, sucks.


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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2009 4:20 pm

    pah, quit your biching…..no-one asked you to move there….. 😉

  2. JenH permalink
    January 20, 2009 5:13 pm

    Get back to work Sham.

  3. southiesham permalink
    January 20, 2009 8:10 pm

    Andy – it’s my party and I’ll bich if I want to.

    JenH – Go Tai Chi yourself.

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