More workers experience 'furlough envy'

As more companies are requiring workers to take unpaid time off, sometimes for a week or two of unpaid vacation, some workers with "furlough envy" are asking how they can get in on that deal.

Granted, these are mostly executives who can afford a week or more of unpaid leave, and they're happy to take it because it's mandatory time off, and they don't use all of their paid vacation time anyway, according to a story on

The New York Times recently announced a temporary 5% paycut for most employees, along with 10 additional days of leave.

A New York publishing executive was quoted in the story as saying he'd do it in a heartbeat.

"I never get to take all the vacation that I'm allowed," he said, "so if somebody told me that I had to take vacation, I would love it."

I've never completely understood why Americans are adverse to taking vacations, and by that I mean paid vacations they accrue. I kind of get the feeling that they might not be missed at work and that the boss might think the company could live without them when they return. But if that's the case, wouldn't the boss realize it earlier, like before you went on vacation?

I can see how managers would happily take unpaid furloughs if they can't find the time to take a paid vacation. Losing a week's pay wouldn't dent their lifestyle.

But for workers who live week to week, yucking it up about furlough envy and how they'd gladly take a week off without pay doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice. If the executives really want to help the bottom line and possibly cause fewer layoffs, maybe they could try "20% pay-cut envy?"

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at

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