Investing

Vacation searches are up, signaling a strong economy and comfort with employment status

Share
Key Points
  • Google searches for the term "vacation" rose 10 percent in April on a year-over-year basis, says Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research.
  • This is a positive for the U.S. economy, Colas notes, as U.S. workers are usually reluctant to take time off from their jobs.
  • "There's no way around it: Americans have a complicated relationship with the concept of vacation," he says.
Getty Images

The U.S. economy seems to be on solid footing, according to one unusual indicator: vacation searches on the internet.

Google searches for the term "vacation" rose 10 percent in April on a year-over-year basis, said Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, using Google Trends data. This is positive for the U.S. economy, Colas said, as U.S. workers are usually reluctant to take time off from work.

"There's no way around it: Americans have a complicated relationship with the concept of vacation," said Colas in a note this week. "According to an annual survey done by the US Travel Association, more than half of US workers do not use all their paid-for vacation days."

Two of the most common reasons Americans cite for not using all of their vacation days every year are the fear "looking replaceable" and the cost of travel, Colas said citing figures from the U.S. Travel Association.

"To say you don't take vacation for fear of being fired speaks to job security," he noted. "Cost of travel relates to income and consumer confidence."

The U.S. jobs market is currently in a healthy state. Weekly jobless claims — which refer to the number of unemployment applications filed for a particular week — totaled just 222,000 the week ending May 12, around their lowest levels since the early 1970s. Meanwhile, the market has added jobs for 88 straight months through April, marking one of the longest expansions in U.S. history.

"The US economy is still on solid footing going into the end of Q2," wrote Colas. "It takes a lot to get Americans out of the office, and the Google Trends data shows they are gearing up for summer vacation season," Colas said. "That's not just a function of disposable income. US workers feel secure enough in their jobs to actually step away from them for a week."