A sign that the economy’s finally recovering?  Perhaps.  But, economists seem very pleased by the fact that more Americans took a vacation last year.

Republican American reports that Americans took more time off of work in 2017.  However, that’s only by a few hours.   Still, workers on average took 17.2 days off of work last year.  Americans took a half-day less in 2016.

Still, this is a huge improvement considering vacation time bottomed out in 2014.  Americans only took 16 days off that year, a record low.

These numbers came from the Project: Time Off Coalition, which is run by various travel organizations.

The PToC also found another uplifting fact: Americans earned more time off last year!  In 2016, workers racked up a total of 22.6 vacation days.  In 2017, that number rose to 23.2 days.  Which means we, collectively, now have even more time to burn.

So, what does that mean for the economy?  Well, it means people feel they have enough money to take time off to travel.  Besides showing a strengthening economy, it also serves as a sign of consumer confidence.  People feel that vacations took a step down from being a luxury to a necessary part of life again.

That, or, millennials like me realized that, maybe, it’s time to take their nose off the grindstone and live a little.

Personally, I took my first ever vacation days last year… all two weeks of it!  Meaning, since I entered the workforce in 2012, I never took a day off besides maybe one sick day when I came down with strep throat.

Hey, I work in radio, I am not earning the title of Typhoid Mary.

But, last year, I basically realized that I was turning 30 in January and that I basically wasted my 20’s.   All I did was work.  So, I rectified that and spent one week in Canada and one week in Belgium to catch up.

And, boy, let me tell you, it felt SO good.  It was everything I needed to feel refreshed and recharged since I really was running low on battery power.  I went almost six years without taking time to myself, that I’d get to it later when I had more cash.

Yeah, it would have been very depressing to hit 30 and have an Instagram account devoid of precious vacation photos.

Anyways, turns out my story is part of the majority.  A whopping 52 percent of Americans didn’t touch the vacation time they earned last year.  Even worse, almost a quarter of workers say they didn’t take a vacation in over a year!

Even sadder, based on the total accrued vacation time wasted last year, it means over 705 million vacation days went unused!  This is also an increase from 2016, where only 662 million days went unused.

Workers say they can’t afford taking time off because what they do is too important, which I understand.  People don’t just wear one hat when they walk into work, they wear several.  So, they feel like they are an important cog in the machine.

Also, people worried that if they took the time off, their work would see them as dispensable and replaceable.

But, that’s emphatically not the case.  Our work culture really became something twisted after the recession.

Smart devices may also have played a significant role in this new mentality.  Workers have no excuse to fall off the grid after they clock out.  They have access to their emails 24/7 on their smart phones.

Which is why up to 30 percent of workers will still respond to emails during their paid time off.  This number is a significant jump from 2014’s modest 24 percent.

Also, last year, 1 in 4 bosses contacted a worker while they were on vacation.  Yeah, I know – you can’t really ignore an email from the head honcho.

Or CAN you?

Email forwarding and away messaging, thankfully, exists.  Also, business experts say by looking at your work email during vacation damages the overall restorative effect of taking a break!

So, if you head out on vacation, leave the work electronics at home and coordinate with your coworkers that you’ll be gone.  Read more about how to keep your vacation truly yours HERE.

While this latest report contains positive news about the economy, it also offers a look into our new work culture.

Simply put, if you earned vacation time: use it.  Even if you don’t have the cash to go anywhere, the benefits are still the same.

So, let’s promise each other that with our increased days off, we actually take some time for ourselves.  You only live once!

 

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