Work, Productivity, Play and Compensation in America

Americans work longer and harder than our peers in almost every industrial nation.

On average Americans are working 1800 hours per year, beating out Germany, France, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Spain, United Kingdom, Australia and Finland. to The International Labour Organization American released a report stating that “workers in the United States on average produce $63,885 of wealth annually; compared to other industrialized countries of Europe, only Norway’s workers produce more wealth per hour ($37.99 in U.S. dollars) than do American workers ($35.63.)”

That isn’t money in our pockets, mind you; it’s in the pockets of fewer and fewer people whose motives we understand all too well: CEOs and Wall Street bankers.

Granted we produce more wealth per hour than all of those countries except for Norway.

Norwegians, mind you, produce more wealth per hour while putting in fewer hours at work and by taking more vacation than we do.

Producing wealth isn’t the only thing we produce in volume: we simply produce the most.


Americans, however, get paid less than we did 20 years ago.

The labor of hard working Americans is producing over one-fifth of the world’s wealth with a slight catch. The gains of American worker productivity are not being shared with the average worker.

According to a Center for Economic Policy Research editorial by John Schmitt in June of this year:

“Between 1979 and 2012, after accounting for inflation, the productivity of the average American worker increased about 85 percent. Over the same period, the inflation-adjusted wage of the median worker rose only about 6 percent, and the value of the minimum wage fell 21 percent. “

Twenty One Percent!


Americans Take Less Vacation

Rather sobering is the fact that 23% of American workers do not even receive paid vacation as part of their employment.

For those workers who do, in 2011 60% of American workers ended the year with unused vacation time. On average, 175 million days of accrued vacation go unused in America in a given year. When compared to the G20 nations, America is the only country that does not guarantee annual paid vacation.

What’s worse, 40% of American workers don’t even receive paid sick days. Going to work sick, infecting coworkers or simply being on the job and recovering more slowly contribute to a loss of $180 billion in productivity.


American Workers Receive Less Compensation and Experience Highest Inequality

The productivity Americans workers generate results in almost no increase in compensation through wages or benefits.

When comparing the Gini index and the wealth gap between the top 5% income earners to the bottom 20% of income earners, we are seeing a steady increase in the transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top. The United States

The nation is experiencing an economic comeback and the greatest jobless recovery in history. The capital and liquid, the bump to the housing market, are concentrating that wealth in the hands of very few people. The Job Gap,  the gap between living wage jobs and the number of people seeking that employment steadily rises year after year.

Supporting restaurant workers’ efforts to earn a living wage, removing the income cap on Social Security taxes, finding more commonsense approaches to cutting costs and saving critical benefits like Medicare—are the ways the Alliance is fighting to close the inequality gap.

Join our campaigns, and then maybe we can all actually take a vacation.