America: where rising productivity means longer working hours

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Be glad you have a job wage slave. Now get back to work instead of wistfully thinking about a month in Hawaii.


While this is interesting, I’m not sure a comparison to Nordic countries is the most illustrative considering political, demographic, economic, and population differences.

Where are the graphs comparing the US to the UK or EU and other post-industrial economies? How about China or Japan which have strong cultural bias towards high worker productivity?

Don’t get me wrong, an extra 2.2 months of vacation would be awesome but that’s just not something Americans would ever adopt culturally based upon on our history of corporate/capitalist influence - something that is typically not shared by more socialist-leaning Nordic countries.


I would have titled this “America: where productivity rises despite longer working hours”.


I blame American workers, at least partly. In every job I’ve been at, where I had access to accrued vacation numbers, people never took anywhere near all their vacations. I don’t, either, though I try. People accumulate it, so they have it in case they get fired, or they don’t think they can take the vacation without their desk going to hell. Some people just enjoy their work more than their vacation. Whatever.

With employment numbers the way they are, now is the time to be taking vacations.


Personally I am more than willing to take an extra 2.2 months of vacation, for the good of my country of course.


I was mostly at a can’t get it scheduled plus was happy enough taking a few days every month as I was at use or lose it for 4 weeks total at my last job. So as it would get close to max I would take a long weekend or extend a holiday weekend by 2 days and be good for 2 more months.


This is true. My last position I had accrued over 6 weeks of PTO and could never take it all. It maxed out at 240 hours so I usually lost additional times every year.

I probably could have pushed a multi-week vacation but the pressure to stay engaged was immense. I never took more than 2 weeks at a time and I was always plugged in via email anyway, otherwise I would come back to a shitshow and overflowing inbox.

Ironically, the company I worked for was Australian-based so we regularly had to deal with our foreign colleagues being out of the office for months at a time while there was a strong anti-vacation ethic in the US office - stemming from the head boss who didn’t take more than 3 days vacation in over 10 years.

My new company has an unlimited PTO policy - which sounds great until you realize it’s just a ploy to avoid having to pay accrued vacation time and allows the company to keep that liability off their books.


I worked it out to about 8 weeks of vacation, which seems about right. It’s barbaric that we have given away our communal and collective bargaining for things like vacation.

Yes, I’ve been in the same situation. But as I say, with the employment numbers as they are, now is the perfect time.

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I work this as “I have to take at least a couple contiguous weeks off every year so the company can still function if I get in a car accident - this is training for the rest of you. It’s mission critical business continuity preparedness and I will grade your performance on my return”.

Another trick I do is “I am going completely off grid and will be unable to charge electronic devices or contact cell phone services - here is the phone number of a person who can drive six hours into the wilderness and find me, at which point I will rush to a hotel and get on the Internet, but you will have to pay him one thousand dollars cash in advance.” They’d call me in a heartbeat, but somehow nothing’s ever important enough to cough up $1000.

And of course I use out-of-office autoreply for phone and email, which makes people not want to send me frequent automated messages :slight_smile:


You’d think so but there’s still tremendous fear among the US workforce. Companies have all the power and there is no consolidated counter-force like in the old union days. Among 40+ aged workers (like me), ageism is a real problem - especially for tech workers. I have decades of experience but it still took over 10 months to find a new position with similar pay.

In spite of the low unemployment numbers average wage increase is still pitiful (less than 1% after adjusting for inflation) and not expected to rise dramatically any time soon. There’s something really wrong with these statistics and points to a systemic issue that’s been ongoing for decades.


The title seems like an obvious observation. Americans worked longer hours and got more done. What a shocking discovery!

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Oh, I hear you. I’m in a similar situation-my job is secure for now, but I will probably have to look for another soon, and I’m also older. I guess I should have said that there is no better time than now to address the situation. That doesn’t mean it’s a good time, as you say, just maybe that it’s been worse in the past. Yeah, ageism sucks.

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Yeah… looking at the list of Norwegian inventions, I’m not that impressed:

Cheese knives are great and all, but maybe they should take less time off.

I always liked my NordicTrack

[…and that’s exactly how I looked using it.]


Productivity is usually measured as a fraction with hours worked in the denominator.


Copying Congress’s approach?

But. hey. Trump can keep bragging about how low unemployment numbers are, so who the fuck cares if most people are working shitty jobs for shitty pay.