Americans are using more vacation time after more than a decade of decline according to Project: Time Off's latest report, The State of American Vacation 2017. While 96 percent of employees say their time off is important to them, the report reveals that gender, generation, and seniority may be predictors of different challenges to taking time off. Workers took an average of 16.8 days of vacation in 2016, up from 16.2 in 2015.

This change turns the America's Lost Week trendline in a positive direction after bottoming out at 16.0 days in 2014. This is the most upward movement seen since vacation usage started its rapid decline in 2000, when the long-term average stood at 20.3. With two years in a row of growth, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about vacation habits changing in America. The increase in vacation usage may be tied to more Americans (54%) planning their time off. Though the jump in vacation usage is encouraging, American work culture still has a long way to go to overcome time-off obstacles. Gender, generation, and seniority may be predictors of vacation behaviors and usage.

Additional key findings include:

  • More than half (54%) of employees left vacation time unused—down from 55% last year—leading to 662 million unused vacation days.
  • More Americans are planning their time off and planning continues to pay off. Workers who plan are more likely to use all their time off, take more time at once, and are happier with their relationships, health and well-being, company, and job. 
  • Employees who forfeit vacation days and prescribe to the work martyr attitude are less likely to have received a recent raise, bonus, or promotion.
  • Men are more likely than women to use all their vacation time. This difference widens among Millennials.