Aug 13, 2021 - Health

America's second botched summer

Illustration of an office water cooler with a beach ball inside
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has stretched into the 2021 summer — and case counts are rising due to the Delta variant — so Americans are still working instead of going on vacation.

What's happening: The share of employed adults who are vacationing typically peaks in July at around 3%, notes Nick Bunker, an economist at the jobs site Indeed. And while the 2021 rate is higher than that in 2020, it's still well below normal, at under 2%.

The big picture: Americans are historically bad at taking time off. In 2019, U.S. workers earned 23.7 days of paid time off, but used only 17.2, per U.S. Travel Association data.

  • It's gotten even worse during the pandemic, as many workers are delaying time off until they feel safer traveling or until vacation sites are fully open.

Why it matters: Underusing time off is exacerbating burnout across the U.S. workforce. 52% of workers said they're experiencing burnout in 2021, per a recent Indeed survey. That could push employees to quit at an even faster clip than they are now.

  • Employers are addressing burnout by encouraging workers to take time off, by making vacation days mandatory or giving the entire company the same week off.
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