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Study reveals Vacation Usage of Americas in each state

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

work in holidayA new report about vacation days reveals that more than half of American employees left unused last year. The 662 million days left unused last year—and their implications for individual employees and workplaces alike—are not felt evenly across America. Project: Time Off's new report, Under-Vacationed America: An Analysis of the States and Cities That Need to Take a Day, provides a look at the vacation behavior in all 50 states and the 30-largest metro areas in the country.

Idaho, New Hampshire, and Alaska hold the top spots for the states with the most workers leaving vacation unused. Looking at cities, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, CA, and Tampa, FL are home to some of the most under-vacationed employees in America.

Unfortunately, many of the areas seeing the worst vacation usage are home to cultures where employees report hearing negative or mixed messages about time off. Where just 17 percent of workers nationally say their company sends negative or mixed messages, the majority of the states in the top ten for leaving unused vacation are more likely to agree, most notably Alaskan workers at 28 percent.

There are some states and cities that are better at vacation usage. Maine, Hawaii, and Arizona top the list of states with employees who are least likely to leave vacation time on the table. For cities, Pittsburgh, PA, Chicago, IL, and Phoenix, AZ are home to employees who take more of their earned time off.

The places where employees use the most vacation tend to have work cultures that encourage time off, enjoy lower fear and anxiety about being away, and are less susceptible to the stress and pressures of being away.

Five States with the
Most Unused Vacation
STATE % WITH
UNUSED
DAYS
UNUSED
VACATION
DAYS
DIRECT
SPENDING
POTENTIAL
Idaho 78% 3.1 million $433 million
New
Hampshire
77% 2.7 million $552 million
Alaska 73% 1.7 million $651 million
South
Dakota
73% 1.8 million $404 million
Oklahoma 69% 9.7 million $690 million
Five States with the
Least Unused Vacation
STATE % WITH
UNUSED
DAYS
UNUSED
VACATION
DAYS
DIRECT
SPENDING
POTENTIAL
Maine 38% 2.6 million $700 million
Hawaii 39% 3.3 million $4.4 billion
Arizona 41% 11.4 million $3.2 billion
Alabama 41% 10.1 million $818 million
Wisconsin 44% 10.6 million $1.6 billion
Five Cities with the
Most Unused Vacation
CITY % WITH
UNUSED
DAYS
UNUSED
VACATION
DAYS
DIRECT
SPENDING
POTENTIAL
Washington,
D.C.
64% 17.3 million $3.8 billion
San
Francisco,
CA
64% 12.8 million $3.1 billion
Tampa,
FL
62% 5.1 million $1.2 billion
Los
Angeles,
CA
62% 32.5 million $6.4 billion
Boston,
MA
61% 11.6 million $2.4 billion
Five Cities with the
Least Unused Vacation
CITY % WITH
UNUSED
DAYS
UNUSED
VACATION
DAYS
DIRECT
SPENDING
POTENTIAL
Pittsburgh,
PA
40% 4.6 million $696 million
Chicago,
IL
44% 18.2 million $3.5 billion
Phoenix,
AZ
44% 8.2 million $1.6 billion
Orlando,
FL
45% 4.7 million $3.4 billion
Miami,
FL
45% 10.2  million $2.4 billion

See report for full rankings.

Nationwide, U.S. workers took an average of 16.8 days of vacation in 2016, turning the trend line in a positive direction after losing almost a week of vacation time since 2000. This was up from 16.2 days in 2015. This, however, is a far cry from the 20.3 day long-term average from 1976 to 2000.

While Americans are taking more vacation time, there is also a slight increase in the number of days left unused. In 2016, 662 million vacation days were left on the table, four million days more than 2015. However, forfeited vacation days—time that cannot be rolled over, banked, or paid out—are down eight percent to 206 million forfeited days. Those forfeited days have a cost. Last year, employees gave up $66.4 billion in lost benefits, which translates to an average of $604 per employee. 

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