Travel Association: 41 percent of U.S. residents waste vacation days

Forty-one percent of U.S. residents do not use their paid vacation time off from work, according to a study released Thursday by the U.S. Travel Association.

The study, titled "Overwhelmed America: Why Don't We Use Our Paid Time Off?" found that four in ten U.S. workers were not planning to use all of their vacation time, even if it was included in their employment compensation packages.

"Americans are overwhelmed — but they aren’t taking the breaks they’ve earned," the Travel Association said in a news release about the findings of the report.

"Nearly three-quarters of workers say they are stressed at work, with one-in-four reporting they are either 'very' or 'extremely' stressed," the group continued. "It’s no surprise that Americans feel this way. Many workers leave their paid time off (PTO) unused, despite near-universal recognition of the importance and benefits of using PTO, from reducing stress to improving productivity when we return to work."

The group found that 40 percent of respondents to its poll of 1,300 U.S. residents attributed their lack of vacation time to fears about returning to a large amount of work.

Another 33 percent of the poll's respondents said they were worried that no one could perform their duties in their absence, a phenomenon the Travel Association dubbed "the Work Martyr Complex."

Twenty-eight percent of the poll's respondents said they thought taking time off work would lead their employers to question their dedication to their jobs, and another 33 percent said they "could not afford" to take vacation time.

The travel association said the lack of vacation time not only affects the the amount of tourism in the U.S. economy. The group said it can also have negative health affects on U.S. residents.

"America’s always-on, overworked culture is not only optional, it is unnecessary and harmful — to our health, our well-being, our relationships and our careers," the group said.

The full report can be read here.