America is not the same way it used to be back in the day. The norms of our older siblings, parents, and grandparents are disappearing as the United States continues to evolve. These evolutions are being seen in lifestyle, habits, and especially in workforce benefits. Pensions, real wages, and paid vacations/ holiday time are becoming things of the past and are things that newer generations will not be as familiar with.
Pensions used to be the norm when it came to American government and corporate retirement plans. American pensions have been declining as Wall Street companies are swapping high costs for more bottom-friendly 401ks, putting burdens on workers. According to Donald Bartlett and James Steele’s book, “The Betrayal of the American Dream,” the United States has lost about 85,000 pension plans between 1985 and 2012. The numbers continue to decline.
Real wages are also declining. According to October statistics from the Social Security Administration, “America’s median wage has dropped to levels not seen since 1998.” Half of the workers in the United States made less than $27,519 in 2012, a decrease of four dollars from the previous year. Total real wages per American are six percent below their levels from 2007.
Paid vacations and holiday time haven’t completely vanished from American culture, nor is it close to completely becoming a thing of the past, but it is definitely declining. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 77 percent of Americans receive paid vacation days, a three percent decrease from a couple of decades ago.
Of all full-time workers at small businesses consisting of 100 workers or less, only 69 percent are granted paid vacation time, and only 35 percent of private part-time workers get paid vacation. The Center for Economic Policy and Research stated that the United States “is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation.” The same also applies to paid maternity leave. Developed European nations and Australia requires at least 20 paid holiday/ vacation time and guarantees paid maternity leave.