Afraid to leave work

Empty deck chairs on a cruise ship

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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Today is Memorial Day, which is a holiday for most people. Of course, I'm working. And it seems so are a lot of you.

A study from Yahoo Hot Jobs found that nearly half of American workers don't take all of their vacation days. What is wrong with us? Do we love our jobs that much?

Uh, not quite. Stacey Vanek Smith takes a look.


STACEY VANEK-SMITH: Most U.S. workers get about 10 days of paid vacation a year. In France and Germany they get about 40 days off. They also have about three times the number of holidays we do.

Despite that, 45 percent of workers surveyed said they don't use all of their vacation.

John Challenger is the CEO of outplacement firm Challenger Grey and Christmas. He says, yes, we are workaholics. But this is also a sign of the times.

JOHN CHALLENGER: Americans are not only obsessed with work, but they're also more insecure about their jobs than they used to be. So taking all your vacation days is sometimes risky. You worry that maybe your boss is going to see you away and give the plumb assignments to someone else.

And even people who are taking vacations aren't always getting away. Forty percent of workers surveyed said that when they did have time off, they were too exhausted to take a real vacation.

In Los Angeles, I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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