We Can't Catch a Break: 14 Depressing Facts About Americans and Vacation

Feeling overworked? Like you need a break? You're not alone. Americans are not taking vacations in droves. Partly, the rampant culture of overwork is to blame; how America seems to look askance at people who seek balance and don't want to spend the entirety of their lives grinding away at the office. Partly, it's because many workers in America—especially lower income workers—don't get paid vacation time, and can't afford to take time off. Add to that the fact that many Americans are terrified of losing their jobs or being perceived as lazy, undedicated, or at all dispensible to their bosses, and you get a bunch of exhausted, burned out people, whose happiness and productivity is diminished.


Americans put the most time at work than any other developed country, but lest you think that is just what made America great, the fact is our long work hours were not always number one. In 1979, our working hours were comparable to most other other developed countries, with Japan outworking us. Today, we lead the pack, putting in more hours than all of them. The idea of shrinking the workweek has definitely not caught on here. Our 40-hour workweek is now 47 hours long on average. This despite the fact that studies indicate that the world's most productive workers work fewer hours.

A recent survey of 1,000 people by the travel marketing firm Skift revealed the following depressing statistics.

1. More than half of Americans haven't taken a single day of vacation so far this year.

2. Another 18 percent have taken fewer than five vacation days.

3. The rest is split between those who took fewer than 5, and those who took between 5-10 vacation days this year.

4. More than a quarter of American workers don't get any vacation days off.

5. The lower the income of Americans, the fewer vacation days they have taken this year.

6. Around half of those in the bottom three income groups say they haven’t taken a day off.

7. A quarter of those making $75,000 to $149,000 say the same.

8. No one making more than $150,000 says they’ve gone without a day off.

9. Women take less vacation time than men. More women report having taken zero days off while more men have taken more than 10 vacation days.

10. More than 40 percent of Americans who get paid vacation don’t plan to use it all this year.

11. 15 percent say they haven’t taken paid time off for something other than an illness or emergency in over a year.

12. Americans living on the West Coast are more likely to take vacation days than the rest of the country. (Not depressing if you live on the West Coast.)

13. People living in urban areas are more likely to take vacation days. (Surprisingly.) 

14. Non-parents take less vacation than parents.

h/t Think Progress

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