Working on Columbus Day? It depends on where you live
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).
Beyond 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
Drew DeSilver is a Senior Writer at the Pew Research Center.