America stands alone among developed countries of the world by not mandating vacation time. According to a 2014 Oxford Economics analysis, of those who do get vacation time, 4 in 10 Americans stockpile them, failing to take all the days they’re offered. Those stay-at-work Americans leave an average of 8.1 days unused. That translates into about 429 million unused days per year.
A recent Bloomberg article suggests that those millions of unused days are a gigantic gift to corporate America, but don’t help employees nearly as much. Perhaps some of this can’t be helped. About 30% of North Americans admit to being workaholics. But the extra work doesn’t necessarily translate into significantly more income. One 2013 study found that for those who work more than 47 hours a week, 5 extra hours correlate with just a 1% increase in yearly wages.
Much of this work is done in a service sector context in which overtime is not paid and many may be working extra hours to firm up job security. With the economy improving, more people seem to be ready to vacation this year. A survey released last month by Allianz Global Assistance USA found that 52 percent of respondents were confident that they would take a summer vacation this year, up 5 points from 2013.