Idahoans: Take a break!

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Idaho has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for workers forfeiting paid time off.

In a study titled “Under-Vacationed America: An Analysis of the States and Cities That Need to Take a Day,” 78 percent of Idaho workers forfeited their unused vacation days, which far exceeds the national average of 54 percent. The survey was led by GfK, a German-founded market research institute which is the fourth largest in the world. The study was conducted online between Jan. 26 to Feb. 20, 2017, and comprised data from 7,331 Americans over the age of 18 who work at least 35 hours a week and are offered PTO by their employer.

But why have Idahoans developed such a work martyr complex? The survey gives explanations of 36 to 26 percent saying they feel they have to show complete dedication to their job, 27 to 20 percent saying they feel their company does not encourage time off, and 28 to 23 percent saying they don’t want to appear replaceable to their boss.

Other top states for most forfeited paid time off, in descending order, are New Hampshire, Alaska, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

Reasons for PTO forfeiture differ from state to state. Alaskans report the high cost of a vacation as a reason, and folks in South Dakota peg a heavy workload and the pile-up of work upon their return. The report also outlines the top states for taking vacation time, and also the top and bottom major cities. Maine residents take the most time off (38 percent leave vacation time unused) closely followed by Hawaii (39 percent). Washington, D.C., uses the least vacation time while Pittsburgh uses the most.

Declining to take paid time off can actually be costly: $433 million is the reported figure of direct spending potential that is lost in Idaho, based on 3.1 million unused days. Nationwide, $128 billion is lost to the economy, according to Project: Time Off. In an effort to change these figures, Project: Time Off has specified Jan. 30 as National Plan for Vacation Day. Tourism, travel and hospitality-related businesses are expected to offer promotions and specials in conjunction with the date, and social media has adopted a #PlanForVacation hashtag.

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