October 14, 2013

Working on Columbus Day? It depends on where you live

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Fewer than half of states give their employees Columbus Day as a paid holiday.

Depending on where you live, today (Columbus Day) may be a paid day off or no different from any regular Monday.

Columbus Day is one of the most inconsistently celebrated U.S. holidays. It’s an official federal holiday, which means federal workers would be getting the day off even if they weren’t furloughed. And because federal offices are closed, so are banks and the bond markets that trade in U.S. government debt (though the stock markets are open).

ColumbusDayBeyond that, it’s a grab bag. According to the Council of State Governments’ comprehensive “Book of the States,” only 23 states (plus the District of Columbia) give their workers Columbus Day as a paid holiday. (Tennessee officially does so too, but chooses to celebrate the occasion on the Friday after Thanksgiving.) In Hawaii, today is Discoverers’ Day, though not an official state holiday. Since 1990, South Dakota has marked the second Monday in October as Native Americans Day, an official state holiday. In Nevada and Iowa, statutes “encourage” the governor to issue an annual Columbus Day proclamation but do not designate it a legal holiday.

Nearly 100 years ago, Colorado became the first state to designate Columbus Day as a state holiday, largely due to the efforts of Angelo Noce, a first-generation Italian immigrant in Denver. The day spread, in large part as a celebration of Italian-American heritage. In recent years, however, Native American groups and others have advocated changing the holiday to something else, citing Columbus’ own mistreatment of the natives and the legacy of European settlement that his voyages initiated.

Category: Daily Number

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a Senior Writer at the Pew Research Center.

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3 Comments

  1. Tom Kenny9 months ago

    I have the day off as a National Holiday, but it is without pay. If my employer wants me to work on a much needed holiday, they must pay double time. I enjoyed the day, after sleeping in, with a beautiful fall walk in an Audubon Sanctuary with my wife and then a relaxing dinner.
    Holidays are too often looked at as a lost day of production or pay from ones job. Instead they should be appreciated and preserved as a respite from our daily toils of work and an opportunity to connect with our families, friends or just a day to decompress.

    Reply
  2. jvo9 months ago

    no legend for map….

    Reply
    1. HMS9 months ago

      The blue states are the states that have Columbus day off.

      Reply