The majority of Americans haven't taken a vacation in the last year, and many of those who have felt guilty about relaxing while away from work, according to two recent surveys. The Los Angeles Times reports 56% of Americans—or 135 million people—haven't gone on a vacation in 12 months. Those numbers are extrapolated from an insurance company's phone survey of 1,000 people and show an increase from 52% last year. Apparently, employees are afraid of being replaced by someone with a better work ethic or dread the work that would pile up while they're away. One expert weighed in from her own vacation, telling the Chicago Tribune that America has a culture that makes it difficult to take time away from work for fear of being branded "lazy."
Perhaps even more distressing, of those Americans who do get away from work, Yahoo reports 42% feel guilty for relaxing on vacation and 54% use their vacation time to go to the doctor, handle family issues, or deal with other obligations. Those numbers come from a yearly survey by Princess Cruises. Studies show Americans simply don't take vacations even when employers let them: According to Yahoo, US workers left $52.4 billion of vacation time on the table in 2013. Another expert told the Tribune the bad economy is only exacerbating vacation guilt. But Americans remain hopeful; 51% of people surveyed by the insurance company still hoped to squeeze a vacation in before January.