Juliet Schor's The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (Basic Books) was published in 1992, so when the book came out, it was definitely in keeping with the trend, whether you look at the BLS or the OECD. The trends since then, it seems to me, are results of recession and weak recovery, therefore temporary, not secular, trends, unless women married to high income men do fundamental rethinking about what roles they want to prioritize, how many hours they want to work, etc.
The Americans who are single and have no children probably feel little absolute time crunch, but for many of those who, married or unmarried, have children, as well as many of married men and women, probably do, as more women work, leaving less time for their families. E.g., a couple have two days off each week, but the man has Saturdays and Sundays off, and the woman has Sundays and Mondays off. The couple would feel more time crunch than a couple who both have Saturdays and Sundays off, to say nothing of a couple one of whom does not engage in wage labor at all. The time crunch story in absolute terms is basically the story of women and the impacts of the changes in women's lives on families.
Moreover, many Americans, insecure about their jobs and finances, seem less and less able to take time off, and the companies that do not offer paid vacation at all have increased.*
Such changes must be seen in the context where real wages are still lower than their peaks in the mid-1970s even as productivity went up in the same period. The contrast with Europe, the relative decline of American leisure vis-a-vis European leisure, grew in the same period, for vacations legislation steadily expanded European workers' leisure greatly while American workers, less and less unionized, were left at the mercy of employers:
Although Americans and Europeans initially took
comparable amounts of paid vacation, trends in
vacation time in the U.S. and Europe diverged in
the decades after World War II. In each decade of
the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, vacation time
mandated by law in European countries rose by
an average of one additional week per decade,
while in the U.S. and the United Kingdom vacation
time continued to be determined solely on the
basis of employer policy or private labor union
agreements. By the late 1980s, workers in Finland,
France, Luxembourg, Spain, and Sweden enjoyed
five weeks minimum mandated paid vacation each
year. This divergent trend in vacation legislation is
mirrored in the trends of the amount of vacation taken
in Europe and the U.S. Throughout the postwar years,
vacation time in Europe grew, while growth in vacation
time taken by Americans slowed after the 1970s. This is
reflected in the fact that Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates of
annual hours for the U.S. actually show a slight growth
between 1979 and the late 1990s. (Joseph G. Altonji
and Jennifer Oldham, "Vacation Laws and Annual Work
Hours," Economic Perspectives 3Q, 2003, p. 23, <http://www.chicagofed.org/publications/economicperspectives/2003/3qeppart2.pdf> and <http://www.econ.yale.edu/~jga22/website/research_papers/Vacation%20Laws%20and%20Annual%20Work%20Hours.pdf>)
* <http://alternet.org/workplace/41404/> For U.S. Workers, Vacation Is Vanishing By Mark Ames, Comment Is Free. Posted September 8, 2006.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The reason why August has so little meaning to American workers is because Americans don't take vacations any more. According to a Conference Board poll taken in May, 40% of Americans had no plans to take any sort of summer vacation this year -- the worst showing in the poll's 28 years.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
And the trend has only worsened. By 2003, according to a Boston College study, 26% of America's workers took no vacation time at all. This year, as the Conference Board survey shows, that number looks set to continue rising. Why don't Americans take vacations? For one thing, fewer and fewer companies offer their workers paid time off. In 1998, 5% of America's companies didn't offer paid vacation; by 2003, the figure had risen to 13%. According to the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, today a full quarter of American workers get no paid vacation time, while another 33% only get a week. -- Yoshie