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The United States of No Vacation

When it comes to taking vacations, Americans are notoriously bad at kicking back and letting off steam.

About 42 percent of Americans said they didn't take a single vacation day last year, according to a new survey from the travel website Skift. While some might chalk that up to a strong work ethic, the survey hints that there could be another issue at play: Low-wage professions or part-time jobs, which are increasingly pricing workers out of taking time off.

Americans who earned less than $25,000 per year were the least likely to take vacation days, with almost half of that income bracket taking no days off last year, the survey found. On the other end of the spectrum, all workers earning more than $150,000 reported taking at least one vacation day. The problem, says Skift founder and chief executive Rafat Ali, is that low-wage workers may not be entitled to paid vacation days, or feel they can't afford the time away.

"It's a reflection of the current post-recession period, which still feels like a recession," Ali said. "A lot of jobs that were lost haven't come back, and more people are working part time."

Part-time jobs or low-wage jobs, such as hourly restaurant work, may not come with paid vacation, he added. The results, which are based on a survey of 1,500 U.S. adults with Internet access through Google Consumer Survey, also reflect the country's widening income inequality, with lower-income workers unable to afford the basics of what many would consider a stable middle-class life: An annual vacation.

America's bad vacation habits aren't only caused by strapped budgets, but by the fact that the U.S. is the sole country that doesn't guarantee paid days off.

Still, even workers with vacation days aren't diligent about using them. A survey from employment site Glassdoor last year found that American workers only used half their eligible vacation time, with many citing concern that no other employee could do their job. Another top fear was falling behind, but almost one in five said they were worried about losing their job.

When Americans do go on vacation, they don't do it on the cheap. The average American vacation budget in 2014 was $8,272, or about 1 percent higher than the previous year, Skift found. While that might price some low-wage workers out of taking a trip to Europe, there are always "staycations" or family visits, although those, too, might be out of reach for some if it means taking unpaid work days.

While working without vacation might bring Americans more money, they could also be paying through stress and a lower sense of well being. Gallup has found a link between taking regular time for vacations and a higher sense of well being, a measure that's related to health outcomes such as life expectancy and other health outcomes.

Even though one in four Americans think poor people don't work hard enough, the fact is that they might be working harder than anyone in higher income brackets -- at least when it comes to taking some time off.

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