Yankees: Nose To The Grindstone

Compared with counterparts overseas, U.S. employees get skimpy vacations. According to Hewitt Associates, a benefits-consulting firm, American workers, after one year of service, average just two weeks of annual vacation. Same goes for Canadians and the Japanese--10 working days. In most European countries, by contrast, the mandated rule is 20 to 25 days (chart).

At big U.S. companies, Hewitt notes, employees usually fare better as their job tenure increases: three weeks of vacation after 5 years and four weeks after 15 years. But since many Americans work for smaller companies or often change jobs, in many cases they don't advance much past two weeks.

Runzheimer International reports that the average U.S. worker gets a grand total of only 17 days off a year, including holidays. By contrast, Swedes and Finns get 38 and 45 days, respectively. And with 21 national holidays, the average Japanese worker gets 37 days off.

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