Evan Soltas
Aug 18, 2014

Vacation Is All I Ever Wanted

Here I am in Vox, investigating the decline of the American vacation:
Nine million Americans took a week off in July 1976, the peak month each year for summer travel. Yet in July 2014, just seven million did. Keeping in mind that 60 million more Americans have jobs today than in 1976, that adds up to a huge decline in the share of workers taking vacations.

Some rough calculations show, in fact, that about 80 percent of workers once took an annual weeklong vacation — and now, just 56 percent do.

While I've got the dataset on hand, I figure I might as well figure out when Americans take weeklong vacations, by month. So, here you go.

Part of the reason these calculations are "rough," as I wrote, is that we're operating from the assumption that the reference week (which includes the 12th of the month, per Current Population Survey rules). It is obviously wrong to use the week that includes December 12 to estimate absences in December, because, you know, Christmas. But this is may well be cancelled out for similar, opposite phenomena in other months.

I've made my data available here for easy replication. And, in case you're wondering why I know that song reference in the title -- the year it came out minus my age is a negative number -- you may find it amusing to know that this was one of the classics of my childhood.