More than half the American workforce left paid time off on the table in 2018. According to a work-life balance report by travel website Priceline, one-in-four working Americans left at least nine vacation days on the table last year.
Up to 94% of full-time workers have paid time off. For part-time workers, that number is a lot lower at 52%. Only 17.2 vacation days were taken per employee in 2018.
Why is that a problem?
Washington-based group Project Time Off says unused vacation days cost the U.S. economy $255 billion every year. Workers can also generate 1.9 million jobs when they use their vacation days.
That said, don’t give up your vacation days because you’re scared you’ll fall behind. By using your PTO, you can give a work opportunity to someone willing to pick up the slack.
There are 10 states, in particular, where vacation time is a major problem. From Project Time Off, here are the most under-vacationed states ranked by their total unused vacation days compared to the size of their labor force.
- New York
- North Carolina
But the American PTO problem isn’t just that workers aren’t using their vacation days. It’s also that workers aren’t using their vacation days well.
According to the same Priceline report, 29% of U.S. workers regret how they used their PTO in 2018. Another 20% of full-time workers also said they expect to leave vacation days on the table in 2019.
But how are employees using their PTO? And what’s making them regret their decision to take paid time off?
The results of the report found that 19% of workers used their vacation days to attend weddings. Of that 19%, up to 41% said it was their biggest regret.
This sounds bad out of context. Odds are, Americans don’t regret using their PTO to attend weddings because 50% of marriages end in divorce. It’s most likely because of the cost of attending the wedding.
Up to 24% of U.S. workers leave vacation days on the table because they can’t afford to go on vacation at all. And attending a wedding can cost up to $1,000.
That price point may be even higher if the wedding happens outside the United States. When you travel in the U.S., flights are cheaper. You also don’t need to worry about money differences or using a passport.
In fact, of those Americans surveyed, 37% said they wanted to travel stateside. Only 25% said they wanted to go to Europe.
Traveling stateside, you’re able to experience new things without spending a lot of money. Between May and September 2016, more than 1.8 million people visited Alaska, which has over 75 state parks.
These staycations give workers the chance to use their vacation days without needing to worry as much about travel plans or what could happen in case of an emergency. In short, Americans can focus on relieving their stress.
Liz Dente, the chief people officer of Priceline, says that vacations don’t need to be expensive or overly-planned. “It doesn’t have to be a trip to Italy,” she said, “spend a day sleeping in and shopping. Take [the] pressure off.”