As of Friday, September 1, 2017
By Erin Spencer
Are you taking enough vacation? According to science, probably not.
A new report by Project Time Off found Americans took an average of 16.8 vacation days in 2016 (up from only 16 days in 2014). Although we’re on an upward trajectory, we have a long way to go: 54 percent of Americans failed to use their allotted vacation time last year, resulting in a whopping 662 million unused vacation days.
When it comes to the state of vacation days in the United States, not all states and cities are created equal. Some use significantly more—or less—vacation time than the nationwide average.
Idaho tops the list of most unused vacation, with 78 percent of workers failing to use their time off. More than a third of Idahoan workers surveyed said they worried about showing “complete dedication to their job,” which discouraged them from taking time away. On the flip side, only 38 percent of Maine workers left vacation days unused, with more than half of those surveyed saying their company encourages time off.
When it comes to cities, Washington, D.C. takes the workaholic cake: 64 percent of District workers had unused vacation. The high concentration of government workers (40 percent compared to only 13 percent nationwide) could be a factor, since government workers are less likely to take vacation compared to other industries. To the north, only 40 percent of workers in Pittsburg had unused time, and are less likely to feel anxious or guilty about being away from their jobs.
Why should we care about whether or not Americans use their vacation time? The consequences of not taking time off may be greater than you think. Vacations are tied to increased relaxation, happiness, and productivity, and may even boost immune function.
There are massive implications for the economy, too: Lost spending from unused vacation days cost the U.S. $236 billion in 2016, which would have supported 1.8 million jobs and generated $70 billion in additional income for American workers. And lost vacation could mean money out of your own pocket—nearly a third of vacation days last year were forfeited, resulting in $66 billion in lost benefits for workers.
Although 54 percent of Americans left vacation time unused, 96 percent reported that using their paid time is important to them. And if the workers who left vacation days on the table last year took one more day off, it would drive $33 billion in economic impact.
The solution is simple: Time to plan a trip!