Americans wasted 658 million vacation days in 2015, a new record

American workers took 16.2 vacation days in 2015, up slightly from 16 days the prior year. However, workers used a smaller share of vacation time in 2015 compared to 2014, as they were given an additional day (21.9 days on average), according to research from Project: Time Off.

Project: Time Off's State of American Vacation 2016 report is based off data from a GfK survey of 5,641 U.S. employees who earn time off, as well as economic analysis by Oxford (U.K.) Economics.

Here are five interesting findings from the report.

1. Although it is commonly assumed economic trends influence the number of vacation days American workers use, the report found no correlation to unemployment rates or consumer confidence. Instead, American workers' use of vacation days more closely aligns with technology innovation and adoption trends, suggesting increased connectivity has increased Americans' attachment to work and hampered their ability to untether themselves from the office.

2. Fifty-five percent of American workers had unused vacation time at the end of 2015, totaling 658 million unused vacation days — the highest number Project: Time Off has ever reported. In 2014, the total number of vacation days wasted was 429 million, according to the report.

3. The unused vacation days cost the U.S. economy $223 billion in total economic impact and 1.6 million jobs. American workers forfeited 222 million of the 658 million vacation days, resulting in $61.4 billion.

4. Americans' "work martyrdom" has lessened slightly since 2014. According to the report workers cite returning to a mountain of work (37 percent in 2016 compared to 40 percent in 2014) as the greatest challenge associated with taking time off, followed by the belief that no one else could do the job (35 percent compared to 30 percent) and not being able to afford a vacation (33 percent compared to 30 percent).

5. Analysis found a strong correlation between employees who feel support from their bosses and colleagues about taking vacation and employee engagement. However, 58 percent of employees report insufficient support from their boss and 53 percent report the same from their colleagues. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) report hearing nothing, mixed messages or discouraging messages about taking time off.

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