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Good News: Workers Are Taking More Vacation, and More Employers are Encouraging It

Topics: Current Events
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Summer is right around the corner, and that means Americans are gearing up for their summer vacation. This year, according to a new report, they’re expected to take a little more time away from the office than in years past.

According to a new report by Project: Time Off, “State of American Vacation 2018”, American workers took 17.2 vacation days on average in 2017, up nearly half a day from a year earlier and the highest level of vacation usage since 2013.

While half a day year-over-year may not seem like much, the effects of workers taking additional vacation are beneficial for workers, for their employers and for the economy.

I Know What You Did Last SummerYou Worked

Taking vacation days isn’t something at which Americans are very good. First of all, according to a 2013 article in USA Today, “The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation.”

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In France, a country where work-life balance is revered, some workers can be fined for working too much!

And while the average private sector U.S. worker receives 16 paid vacation days and holidays, one in four Americans does not have a single paid day off. Welcome to the “No-Vacation Nation“.

Even when Americans have time off to use, we often don’t take it anyway. According to Fortune, more than half of American workers didn’t take all their available time off in 2016, leaving a collective total of 662 million vacation days on the table that year. In 2017, roughly half of American workers still didn’t take all their available vacation.

True, the American work ethic likely has something to do with the fact that the United States has sustained the world’s largest economy for decades. But if we took some time off, we might perform even better. Why? Read on…

The Endless NonSummer

Even though Americans are terrible at taking time off of work, “2017 marked the highest level of vacation usage among American workers since 2013,” as reported by MarketWatch. And the additional time off provides numerous benefits to workers and their employers.

For workers and employers, taking time off likely means increased efficiency when employees are working. According to a U.C. Berkeley study, the most productive workers actually work less.

Additionally, when employees take time off, there seems to be a corresponding “spike in both self and peer-reported creativity, happiness and productivity.” Makes sense, because studies have shown that happy employees are “approximately 12 percent more productive.”

Perhaps this is why employers are encouraging their workers to take more time off, with 38 percent “of employees (saying) that their company culture supported them taking vacation time, up from 33 percent a year ago.” (Or maybe it has more to do with employers doing all they can to keep their employees happy and on their payroll, as the unemployment rate has dropped to the lowest level in 17 years.)

When workers take vacation, they actually benefit the overall economy, too. According to Project: Time Off, the increase in vacation days taken by American workers in 2017 added $30.7 billion to the economy and produced an estimated 217,200 jobs. And that rising tide lifts all boats.

According to the same report, if American workers took all the vacation offered to them, they’d add $255 billion to the economy and add 1.9 million jobs.

Seems like we should all do our part – nay, our patriotic duty – to boost the American economy by setting those out-of-office email auto responders this summer and heading to the beach.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you use all your vacation days? Why or why not? We want to hear about it! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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Here in Czech Republic the Holidays vary from standart 25 days a year to 25 days + 5 sick days (AVG) or Doctor Leave (half day no limit ) or flexible days (Heidelberg , Novartis , etc ). What i;m sure except some people , almost everyone take all days , 2 weeks summer , 1 week winter and some days on the middle . If you dont take it they expire next year, so its useless.


The problem in the U.S. ISN’T the work-work-work mentality, because 70% hat their jobs! Studies prove most ‘exempt/salaried’ Americans don’t take PTO/sick-days out of FEAR of losing their jobs. The logic? If they can do OK without me for 1-2 weeks, then why keep me? I worked for a very large Canadian company that has a 0 PTO carry-over policy! Yep, you read it! They offered 18 days of PTO + 9 holidays + 2 float-days per year. You were… Read more »

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