American Vacations Are Shrinking

By: Kaydee Ambas · April 05, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Taking Less Time Off

A flurry of recent studies show that Americans are taking less time off for sick, personal, and vacation days than ever before.

During any given week in the 1980s, about 3.3% of the population was on vacation. Today, this metric has dropped by around half to just 1.7%.

The decrease doesn’t appear to be due to employers offering less paid time off. In fact, 90% of full-time employees in the private sector have access to paid vacation time. Still, 46% of employees reportedly decline to use their full allotment of time off.

What Gives?

The reasons employees choose not to take vacations typically depends on role, income level, and position within the company.

Lower-income employees tend to worry more about the risk to their jobs if they take too much time away. But higher-income workers aren’t more likely to take time off, they simply don’t for different reasons. For these workers, working for a larger part of each year probably has less to do with job risk and more with falling behind on work.

Another theory as to why US workers today are taking less time off is that many employers now categorize vacation days, sick days, and personal days under a single umbrella: paid-time off. This small tweak might make employees less inclined to take time off. Employees may be cautious of taking too many days off for vacation, in case they get sick. And if they get sick, they’re more likely to force themselves into the office to save PTO for vacation time.

Setting Boundaries

Even if it’s just for a minor illness or doctor’s visit, 89% of Americans feel it’s extremely important that their employers offer sick time. On the flip side, employers have reason to feel the same.

Companies provide time off for a reason. Overall, taking time off work is important for maintaining good health, improving productivity, and achieving a better work-life balance. It can help you recharge your batteries, reduce stress, and come back to work with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.

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