It is not just Americans who are enjoying less leisure time these days. Spanish workers are also making sacrifices.
The siesta, a time-honored afternoon nap in Spanish culture, appears to be on a siesta of its own, Reuters reports. Grappling with crushing levels of unemployment and enormous budget deficits, Spaniards are cutting back on what has often been the daily respite in an attempt to maximize production. That's making lunch, traditionally Spain's largest meal of the day, more akin to an expensive luxury.
Spain has been one of the countries hardest hit by the eurozone crisis. The country's unemployment, now pegged at 24.6 percent, is the highest in the European Union, according to Eurostat. Nor does there appear any end in sight. As Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy explained to the press, his government will have to continue to choose "between the bad and the even worse," The Wall Street Journal reports.
This is not to suggest that the Spanish are taking the decline of the siesta lying down. There are some who are doing all they can to preserve the tradition. In 2010, the Spanish held what some hailed as the first national siesta championship in Madrid, CNN then reported. And workers are reportedly still having large office lunches with fellow employees as a way to adapt the best aspects of the tradition, Reuters reports. Some public schools are even banning children from bringing packed lunches to school.
Americans know how such a crunch feels, as companies continue to squeeze every last bit of profit out of their employees. In fact, profits per U.S. employee jumped for the second straight year in 2011, according to Sageworks.