Vaneza Mari Calderón is a mariachi musician. She plays the guitarron, the large booming bass instrument at the bottom of the sound.
Photo Insert: Mariachi musician Vaneza Marie Calderon is hardly unique as Americans don’t have paid vacation and as many as 31% of U.S. employees don’t have paid time off.
Now 35, she’s been a musician since she was 13. In addition to gigs, Calderón teaches music: Children, college students, and incarcerated men and women. And she hasn’t had a paid vacation since 2009, George B. Sanchez Tello reported for Capital & Main.
Calderón is hardly unique. An estimated 28 million Americans don’t have paid vacation and as many as 31% of U.S. employees don’t have paid time off. Among leisure and hospitality workers, like Calderón, only 43% nationwide had access to paid vacation time in 2021, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In California, those workers comprise the state’s fifth largest employment sector; officially, more than 2 million employees.
A federal study by the Obama Administration found that low-wage workers, Hispanics and those with less formal education suffer the greatest disparities in access to paid leave — what Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers called the “benefits gap.”
More than half of all the nation’s leisure and hospitality workers do not have paid vacation time.
The nation’s largest percentage of travel and hospitality workers — 14% — are in California, according to a 2021 Rand report, which noted more than 60% of these workers are people of color.
There are health implications, too: Studies find vacation time benefits the mind and body short term and long term.
The stress that comes with a lack of a break from work is associated with heart disease, early aging and Alzheimer’s. Vacation benefits the workplace as well: Employees return more creative and productive.
There is no pending legislation — federal or state — to help the people that help others relax. “We haven’t taken the importance of paid time off for vacations as seriously as we should,” wrote Shawn Fremstad, at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in an email.
“We’ve started to do better recently on other forms of paid leave, particularly paid sick days and paid family leave — but paid vacation leave has been pretty much absent from that discussion.”
Since 2007, the Center for Economic and Policy Research has advocated for paid vacation in the US and has released three editions of its No-Vacation Nation report, most recently in 2019.