More vacation, less sick leave, 1992–2012

August 09, 2013

The provisions of paid vacation plans have become more generous in recent years. The average number of paid vacation days per year increased by 2 for workers with 1, 10, and 20 years of service over the past two decades.

Average number paid vacation days and paid sick days provided, by length of service, full-time private industry workers, 1992–1993 and 2012
Length of servicePaid vacationPaid sick leave
1992–1993    2012    1992–1993    2012    

1 year


5 years


10 years


20 years



The provisions of sick leave plans have changed significantly since 1992–1993. The average number of paid sick leave days per year ranged from 10 days with 1 year of service to 17 days with 20 years during the 1992–1993 period. In contrast, the average number of paid sick leave days ranged from 8 days for 1 year of service to 10 days after 20 years of service in 2012.

The average number of annual paid holidays declined from 10 days in 1992–1993 to 8 days in 2012. (Holiday provisions are the same for all lengths of service.) 

These data are from the National Compensation Survey - Benefits program. To learn more, see the Beyond the Numbers article, "Paid leave in private industry over the past 20 years" (August 2013).


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, More vacation, less sick leave, 1992–2012 on the Internet at (visited September 28, 2016).


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