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businessman dreaming of vacationPeople who don’t use their vacation time are starving the economy.

Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of an oversimplification, but a new study by Oxford Economics conducted on behalf of the U.S. Travel Association found that Americans who chose not to use all of their paid time off deprive the economy of $160 billion in total business sales and $21 billion in tax revenues.

And while not all of that money would be derived from folks traveling — after all, not everyone will be able to splurge on a getaway and will instead opt for a staycation — a lot of it would be.

For instance, the report states that if all unused personal time were successfully converted to travel, leisure travel spending would be $99 billion dollars greater. Of course, that’s not going to happen, but the report estimates an additional $67 billion could realistically be converted into travel spending.

The reason the dollar amounts are so high is that a staggering 42 percent of Americans ended 2013 with unused vacation days. Of that 42 percent, the average amount of unused vacation time was 8.1 days — enough time for a road trip through California’s national parks, a relaxing cruise or two to three extended weekend getaways!

And the sad part of the whole thing is that while not everyone has money in their budget for a vacation, most people choose not to use their vacation time because they think they’re being responsible.

“My company needs me.”
“There’s too much work to be done for me to take off.”
“Leaving now would affect my overall performance.”

But these beliefs are often simply not true.

Survey Says: Travel Makes Us Happier

Research continues to show that employees who take time off to recharge are significantly more productive upon their return to work, a fact most managers recognize. According to the report, most managers believe that taking vacation time improves their employees’ mental health (76 percent of respondents) and physical health (67 percent). Similar numbers of managers believe that time off enhances their employees’ personal and social lives. The bottom line: Healthy, happy people are healthy, happy workers, and managers know it.

Those who use all their vacation time are also being more responsible to their country (cue patriotic music). If each employee who currently leaves paid time off on the table were to take just one additional day of earned leave each year, the economy would benefit by $73 billion dollars.

So the next time someone you know says they don’t plan on using up all their vacation time, feel free to give them a lecture on why taking vacations, even one as short as a weekend getaway, is so important to their employers, themselves and their country.

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And if they still insist their workplace can’t survive without them? Well, tell them to send me their days off. I know I can find a use for them.

— written by Dori Saltzman

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4 Responses to “How the Road Not Traveled Is Hurting the Economy”

  1. carole says:

    The only economy I feel I need to help is my own.

  2. Rob says:

    That’s all very we’ll for those that can afford to have a vocation.

  3. Deborah says:

    Take your vacation time people. I don’t care if you sit on the sofa and daydream. That time is important. You don’t own the company you work for…they should be able to get along without you for a while.

  4. Jon Steel says:

    There’s also a difference, and I’m not sure they accounted for it in their study, between unused “carryover” vacation time and that which is lost. Some of us carry over the time to use the next year for a better, longer vacation, or, in systems without separate sick leave, to cover in case we are sick.

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