$34.3 billion going, going, gone.
The average American worker earned 14 vacation days in 2011. But, if CNNMoney is correct in its reporting of a survey by Expedia, the average American worker will only take 12 of those days — leaving two glorious vacation days unused.
Let's have CNNMoney add up the numbers for us:
That is 226 million unused vacation days. Or 1.8 billion hours.
The average American worker earns $39,416 a year. That calculates out to $34.3 billion worth of unused vacation time.
But why? Why would the average American worker choose to spend time at work instead of on vacation?
They say, according to Expedia, they couldn't afford to travel or they just didn't plan well.
These are weak excuses, Mr. and Mrs. average American worker.
The summary of the Expedia poll shows that workers in Singapore get the same 14 days — but they take them all.
Germans will also let two days go to waste, but they have 30 days vacation given so it isn't as big a deal. The French, however, are the kings of vacations. They use all 30 days they get.
But it could be worse. The Japanese get 11 vacation days and use only five of those days.
Maybe Americans don't realize you don't actually have to go anywhere to take a vacation day. There are people, after all, who use their vacation time to go on Boy Scout activities — so vacation days don't even have to be fun.
John Schmitt, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told CBS "If you look at all of the other rich countries that have about the same standard of living that we have, it's pretty standard to have 20 or 25 days of paid vacation per year."
But American law requires employers to provide zero vacation days. And only about 10 percent will ever take a full two weeks off. Only a third of part-time workers get any paid time off at all.
And the recovering economy doesn't make it any better. "Yeah, it completely intensifies the pressure on workers to buckle down and work as hard as they possibly can, so that if the boss has to make a decision about letting 10 percent of people go, that you're not on that list," Schmitt told CBS.
According to a video on the Huffington Post from AOL News Now, people should take a vacation to be better at work. In the video, author Julie Morgenstern tells MultiVu, "But the reality is the work never slows down. And you get this project done and there is another 22 behind it. So you have to exercise discipline and recognize taking a vacation is the greatest investment you can make in your productivity at work. It recharges you, it gives you energy. You come back fresh, more innovative, you make less mistakes and you get more done in less time."
But just taking a vacation doesn't mean Americans won't work.
"I really would like to take a real, decent vacation and travel somewhere, but it's almost impossible to take a long vacation and to be out of contact," Don Brock, a software engineer who lives in suburban Washington, told CNN.
CNN said, "The running joke at Brock's company is that a vacation just means you work from somewhere else."
Meanwhile, Europeans think Americans work like robots. But that isn't fair. Chances are robots take all their vacation days.