Project: Time Off reports Americans spent 16.8 days on vacation during 2016, on average. That was an improvement from 2015, when the average was 16.2, but it was well below the 20.3 days a year spent on holiday from 1978 through 2000.
The shortening of American vacations owes something to both fear and ambition, according to Project: Time Off:
“Americans are still worried about job security when it comes to taking time off. More than a quarter (26 percent) say they fear that taking vacation could make them appear less dedicated at work, just under a quarter (23 percent) say they do not want to be seen as replaceable, and more than a fifth (21 percent) say they worry they would lose consideration for a raise or promotion.”
While waiving a few vacation days may impress the boss, there are some significant economic consequences. For instance:
- Forfeiting 206 million vacation days in 2016 cost employees $66.4 billion in aggregate and about $604 individually.
- The increase in vacation day usage from 2016 to 2017 contributed $37 billion to the U.S. economy, helped create 278,000 jobs, and generated $11 billion in additional income across the country.
As it turns out, gender and job title are good predictors of the likelihood vacation days will remain unused. Last year, men were more likely than women to use all of their vacation days, even though women were more likely to say that vacation was extremely important.
The same was true of senior management. Company leaders believe corporate culture encourages vacation and often hear about the value of taking vacation, but are unlikely to use all of their vacations days.