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New study reveals the states and cities with the best and worst vacation habits in America

Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Tampa, Los Angeles, and Boston most under-vacationed cities while Pittsburgh, Chicago, Phoenix, Orlando, and Miami rank best in using their paid time off.

WASHINGTON – Despite improvement in the amount of vacation days Americans used last year, more than half (54%) of employees still left time on the table in 2016. The 662 million days left unused last year – and their implications for individual employees and workplaces alike – are not felt evenly across America. There are profound geographical differences in U.S. states and cities that influence employees' time off perceptions and behavior.

Project: Time Off's new report, Under-Vacationed America: An Analysis of the States and Cities That Need to Take a Day, provides a look at the vacation behavior in all 50 states and the 30-largest metro areas in the country. Idaho, New Hampshire, and Alaska hold the top spots for the states with the most workers leaving vacation unused. Looking at cities, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, CA, and Tampa, FL are home to some of the most under-vacationed employees in America.

"Across America, vacation has become the unintended victim of a 24/7 work culture, but there are specific parts of the country living on the edge of burnout where employees particularly need to take time off," said Project: Time Off Senior Director and report author Katie Denis. "The states and cities that have the dubious honor of being at the top of the unused vacation list would do well to realize that employees who take time off are happier, healthier, and more productive."

Unfortunately, many of the areas seeing the worst vacation usage are home to cultures where employees report hearing negative or mixed messages about time off. Where just 17 percent of workers nationally say their company sends negative or mixed messages, the majority of the states in the top ten for leaving unused vacation are more likely to agree, most notably Alaskan workers at 28 percent.

There are some states and cities that are better at vacation usage. Maine, Hawaii, and Arizona top the list of states with employees who are least likely to leave vacation time on the table. For cities, Pittsburgh, PA, Chicago, IL, and Phoenix, AZ are home to employees who take more of their earned time off.  

"The places where employees use the most vacation tend to have work cultures that encourage time off, enjoy lower fear and anxiety about being away, and are less susceptible to the stress and pressures of being away," added Denis.

Nationwide, U.S. workers took an average of 16.8 days of vacation in 2016, turning the trend line in a positive direction after losing almost a week of vacation time since 2000. This was up from 16.2 days in 2015. This, however, is a far cry from the 20.3 day long-term average from 1976 to 2000.

While Americans are taking more vacation time, there is also a slight increase in the number of days left unused. In 2016, 662 million vacation days were left on the table, four million days more than 2015. However, forfeited vacation days – time that cannot be rolled over, banked, or paid out – are down eight percent to 206 million forfeited days. Those forfeited days have a cost. Last year, employees gave up $66.4 billion in lost benefits, which translates to an average of $604 per employee.

Five States with the
Most Unused Vacation

STATE

% WITH 
UNUSED
DAYS

UNUSED
VACATION
DAYS

DIRECT
SPENDING
POTENTIAL

Idaho

78%

3.1 million

$433 million

New
Hampshire

77%

2.7 million

$552 million

Alaska

73%

1.7 million

$651 million

South 
Dakota

73%

1.8 million

$404 million

Oklahoma

69%

9.7 million

$690 million

 

Five States with the
Least Unused Vacation

STATE

% WITH
UNUSED
DAYS

UNUSED
VACATION
DAYS

DIRECT
SPENDING
POTENTIAL

Maine

38%

2.6 million

$700 million

Hawaii

39%

3.3 million

$4.4 billion

Arizona

41%

11.4 million

$3.2 billion

Alabama

41%

10.1 million

$818 million

Wisconsin

44%

10.6 million

$1.6 billion

 

Five Cities with the
Most Unused Vacation

CITY

% WITH
UNUSED
DAYS

UNUSED
VACATION
DAYS

DIRECT
SPENDING
POTENTIAL

Washington,
D.C.

64%

17.3 million

$3.8 billion

San
Francisco,
CA

64%

12.8 million

$3.1 billion

Tampa,
FL

62%

5.1 million

$1.2 billion

Los
Angeles,
CA

62%

32.5 million

$6.4 billion

Boston,
MA

61%

11.6 million

$2.4 billion

 

Five Cities with the
Least Unused Vacation

CITY

% WITH
UNUSED
DAYS

UNUSED
VACATION
DAYS

DIRECT
SPENDING
POTENTIAL

Pittsburgh,
PA

40%

4.6 million

$696 million

Chicago,
IL

44%

18.2 million

$3.5 billion

Phoenix,
AZ

44%

8.2 million

$1.6 billion

Orlando,
FL

45%

4.7 million

$3.4 billion

Miami,
FL

45%

10.2  million

$2.4 billion

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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