Prevalence of Paid Sick Leave Among Wage Earners, 2017
Access to paid sick leave (PSL) is an employment benefit that can provide financial support to families during periods of health difficulties. This visualization uses data from the 2017 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to estimate paid sick leave alone and in combination with paid vacation leave (PVL) among adult workers ages 18-64 across a range of socioeconomic characteristics:
- Demographics: Age, Gender, Race and Ethnicity, Education, and Insurance Coverage
- Health Insurance, Family Income, and Residence in a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)
- Occupation and Job Characteristics
Demographics: Age, Gender, Race and Ethnicity, Education, and Insurance Coverage
Paid sick leave is an employment benefit that is not equally available across worker demographics. Wide variation exists in paid sick leave across a range of socioeconomic characteristics. Research Findings #47 found that:
- Older workers had more access to paid sick leave compared to younger workers aged 19–26.
- Rates of paid sick leave did not differ for men and women, but men were more likely to have paid sick leave in combination with vacation leave, compared to women.
- Across racial and ethnic groups, paid sick leave was lowest for workers who were Hispanic/Latino and highest for workers who were non-Hispanic/Latino Asian.
- Paid sick leave benefits were strongly associated with educational attainment. Only 30 percent of workers with less than a high school education held jobs with paid leave benefits.
Health Insurance, Family Income, and Residence in a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)
Research Findings #47 found that:
- Most workers who had private health insurance benefits also had paid sick leave alone or in combination with paid vacation leave.
- Paid leave rates were much lower for publicly insured workers and uninsured workers.
- Workers who lived in non-metro areas were less likely to have paid sick leave compared to their more urban counterparts.
- Paid sick leave varied by region, with lower rates for workers who lived in the Midwest and South relative to those in the Northeast and West.
- When including paid vacation leave, a higher percentage of workers had paid leave, and the only statistically significant regional difference occurred for workers in the South compared to the Northeast.
- Workers in the lowest income families had the lowest access to paid sick leave, while workers in the highest income families had more access.
Occupation and Job Characteristics
Research Findings #47 found that:
- Service workers had less access to paid sick leave compared to managers, and workers in leisure/hospitality, natural resources, and construction had lower rates of paid sick leave compared to other industries.
- Occupations with higher skill requirements, such as professional occupations, had higher rates of paid sick leave compared to lower-skilled occupations such as farming and service.
- Workers in midsize firms with 50–499 employees were more likely than workers in small firms to have access to paid sick leave. Workers in small firms (0–49) were much less likely to have paid sick leave compared to workers in large firms with more than 500 workers.
- Workers with unions had higher rates of paid sick leave compared to workers without unions.
- Lower-wage workers had substantially lower rates of both paid sick leave and paid vacation leave relative to higher wage workers.