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Martin Luther King Jr. Day Gains Traction as Paid Holiday

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Gains Traction as Paid Holiday Credit: Calendar image via Shutterstock

As the country marks 30 years since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law, the number of businesses commemorating the holiday is slowly increasing, a new study finds.

Research from Bloomberg BNA revealed that 32 percent of employers will give the civil rights leader's birthday, Jan. 21, as a paid holiday this year to most or all of their workers, up from 31 percent a year ago and 30 percent in 2011.

Despite the small increase, the average proportion of companies that observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a paid holiday for the past 10 years is 30 percent, compared with just 22 percent in the 1990s, the research discovered.

In addition, among the employers who give Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a day off, more than half had established the day as a paid holiday before 2000, some as early as 1970. Between 2000 and 2009, another 40 percent of employers started offering the holiday, with 5 percent having just started giving a day off in the past three years.

The research shows government employers, hospitals, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations are the most likely to give their employees Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid day off, with manufacturing companies the least likely.

Some companies are finding ways other than days off to commemorate the civil rights leader. More than 10 percent of the businesses surveyed will sponsor programs or events to acknowledge King's life and achievements, regardless of whether they will give the day off. Some of the programs range from simple things like sending out a companywide email and putting up posters around the office, to more elaborate activities like bringing in speakers and hosting volunteer opportunities.

The research was based on surveys of more than 600 companies among a cross section of sizes and industries.

Follow Chad Brooks on Twitter @cbrooks76 or BusinessNewsDaily @BNDarticles. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.