What it means. Last summer was the time of the staycation, when Americans traded in destination holidays for day trips to the beach, backyard barbecues, and other close-to-home forms of R&R.
This year, however, money might be so tight that many Americans won't take even a staycation. Instead, many will be on a paycation, spending their time off from one job to earn extra cash at another. Or maybe they'll give up the vacation and keep on working at their current job and earn extra pay (if the company allows unused vacation to be cashed out) or at least accumulate extra vacation days for a year when the coffers are a bit fuller.
Why the buzz? The summer of 2008 was no Sunday drive for American consumers, with $4-plus gallons of gas draining household budgets. But bad is it was, the bottom hadn't yet dropped out of the economy. The Dow Jones is currently 37 percent off its 52-week high, and today, 5,560,000 Americans are collecting unemployment compared with 2,835,000 from a year ago, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For some, earning a few extra bucks over a paycation will result in greater peace of mind than a stay in the mountains, at the beach, or just hanging around the house catching up on chores. And for folks without a job, vacation plans will undoubtedly have to be scratched as they look for a new gig and/or take part-time or temp work.
While the U.S. Department of Labor doesn't have any specific statistics for paycations, it has seen a slight uptick in households where someone works multiple jobs, from 5.2 percent in 2007 to 5.5 percent in 2008. According to Steven Hipple, an economist with the Division of Labor Force Statistics, the main reason people work a second job is to earn extra money (38.1 percent) and meet expenses or pay off debt (25.6 percent). Most of the secondary jobs are in education and health services (22 percent), leisure and hospitality (17 percent), and retail trade (15 percent). So if you're planning a paycation, working at a summer camp, slinging drinks at a hotel bar, or manning a department-store register likely are the kinds of jobs available.
Have you changed your summer-vacation plans? Send an e-mail to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.—Daniel DiClerico
Essential information: The self-employed make up 18 percent of secondary-job workers. So if you know recent college graduates who can't find a job, let them know about our coverage of lawn mowers and tractors—they might be able to get a few jobs around the neighborhood.