If you want a raise, try taking a vacation

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In 2016, Americans forfeited 206 million vacation days. That means that workers lost $66.4 billion worth of benefits and, according to a new study from Project: Time Off, they are likely missing out on much more, too.

Americans used to understand the importance of getting away from the office. From 1976 to 2000, the average working American took off more than 20 days a year. Starting in 2000, workers started taking fewer and fewer days off and by 2015, they only took 16 days off a year.

Between 2015 and 2016, the number of days that Americans took off increased marginally, from 16.2 to 16.8 days on average. This tiny increase is still a positive development, because using your vacation days has some surprising benefits.

For instance, the report released yesterday shows that people who use their vacation days are more likely to get a promotion or a raise.

Project: Time Off found that only 23 percent of those who forfeited their days were promoted in the last year, compared to 27 percent of "non-forfeiters."

Using your paid time off may also help you get the raise you have been hoping for. The study also found that 78 percent of forfeiters received a raise or a bonus in the past three years, compared to 84 percent of those who did use all of their paid time off.

More broadly, the report argues that taking vacations can create jobs and improve the U.S. economy. According to Project: Time Off, "unused vacation days cost the U.S. economy $236 billion in 2016, due to lost spending. That spending would have supported 1.8 million American jobs and generated $70 billion in additional income for American workers."

So taking a vacation is associated with getting ahead for you and, by supporting the tourism and leisure industries, it could also help create jobs in communities across the country.

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The recent .6 day vacation bump had a "$37 billion impact on the U.S. economy," explains the report. "It also produced an estimated 278,000 direct and indirect jobs and generated $11 billion in additional income for employees."

Project: Time Off implies that one reason why working fewer days can help you get ahead is that it allows workers to recharge and maintain peak productivity levels.

Another possible explanation for the association is that those who take vacations are already likely get promoted. For instance, men, who are already more likely than their female counterparts to receive promotions and raises, reported feeling less guilt and stress about leaving the office. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to worry that taking a vacation would negatively impact their career.

Maybe the same confidence that helps some employees succeed in the workplace also helps them feel justified in taking breaks from the workplace.

Regardless, this new study is a great excuse to get away. If time with loved ones, the opportunity to make cherished memories or the idea of your toes in the sand won't convince you, be sure to keep in mind the ways that your bank account can benefit.

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