American workers left a record number of vacation days on the table last year—768 million days, up 9% from 2017—according to new research from the U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economics and Ipsos.
Of the unused days, 236 million were forfeited completely, equating to $65.5 billion in lost benefits. More than half (55%) of workers reported they did not use all their allotted time off.
However, while American workers are leaving more unused days on the table, they are also taking more days of paid time off. Workers took off an average of 17.2 days in 2017 and 17.4 days in 2018, but with strong U.S. employment numbers and an increasing workforce, American workers are also earning more paid time off—23.9 days of paid time off in 2018 compared to 23.2 days in 2017.
The number of unused days climbed 9% in 2018 because the number of earned days is increasing faster than paid time off days used.
The latest study also discerned a broader economic cost. More than 80% of American workers say it is important to use their time off to travel, the report found, but they do not actually take the trip. Reasons such as cost, difficulty in getting away from work and air travel hassles were cited in the study as being top barriers to travel. See the full report.