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U.S. Workers Hand Their Bosses $52.4 Billion a Year in Unused Vacation Time

Most employers have a "use it or lose it" policy for vacation days, and a new study using information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has calculated just how much money Americans are losing by not using them. 

A total of 169 million vacation days are left on the table each year, said the analysis, and "by forfeiting this time American employees surrender $52.4 billion in benefits."

That's the latest figure to come out of Travel Effect, the research initiative set up by the U.S. Travel Association to beat Americans into awareness with an endless onslaught of depressing statistics about how terribly we're treating ourselves.

My fellow Americans, you know that a vacation day means you get paid not to go to work, right? That's like free money that your employer gives to you in order to gain your loyalty and keep your spirits high. Going away on vacation is good for your boss because it's good for you. 

Are you seriously going to write off a sum of money that's roughly equivalent to the gross national product of Panama and exceeds that of more than 125 other individual nations?

“If this trend continues, the vacations of our childhoods could be a thing of the past—completely unknown by the next generation. That would be a true loss for our families and our country,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
The economic potential of returning to the pre-2000 vacation patterns is massive: annual vacation days taken by U.S. employees would jump 27 percent (or 768 million days), delivering a $284 billion impact across the entire U.S. economy.


The growing chorus of experts is getting louder as it reminds Americans it's better for everyone if they claim holidays and travel. In September, CBS Sunday Morning made its own calculations about what vacation starvation is costing the United States (click here for that).

Think of it this way: You can spend a romantic week in Florence, swim in the lagoons of Bora Boraor you can remain at your desk and write your boss a check.

Given those options, Americans continue to make a self-denying choice.



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