Are you living the American dream?
According to a recent survey by insurance company Allianz Global Assistance, most Americans have not had a vacation in over a year. At one time vacations were considered a necessary benefit of a job, but now workers will not take a paid vacation even when one is offered to them by their employers.
When asked in a survey by the US Travel Association as to why workers were not taking a vacation, respondents cited fears of work piling up and of being replaced if they left their job for even a week. Workers are in the precarious position of wanting to take time off but worrying that if they do, there might not be a job for them when they return.
This sense of precariousness by workers is proving quite lucrative for employers. Workers who are forfeiting these benefits are providing essentially free labor, as many workplaces have a “use it or lose it” policy on annual vacation days. Employers merely have to offer paid vacation time, not ensure that it is used.
An analysis of the trend in 2013 put the number of unused paid vacation days at 169 million with $52.4 billion in benefits going back to employers. That’s a pretty good deal for the employers. They can recruit workers and foster a better public image by offering a benefit they rarely have to actually make good on.
Meanwhile, workers in the US are working longer hours and stressing over losing the jobs they are scared of taking a vacation from. Add in to the mix decades of stagnant wages and high rates of shackling debt like student loans and the picture becomes rather clear – the 99% are living an increasingly feudal existence.
The irony is if any group of people needs a vacation, it would be those working long hours paycheck to paycheck and stressing out about job security.