Many workers in this dog-eat-dog economy have been opting out of taking their full compliment of vacation days each year.

The travel website, “Expedia” says the average American worker gets 14 days annually. But they also say on average, they only take 12 of those days, and that’s the same average as last year. In terms of dollars and cents, the Labor Department says at an average salary of $39,000 and change annually, the time not taken works out to about 34 billion dollars in terms of vacation compensation not accepted by the employee.

Carl Van Horn of the Rutgers Workforce Development Center says part of it is paranoia. Will the employer learn to do without me while I’m away? But he says some companies have actually been discouraging vacation time. Van Horn says when the economy is especially weak and employers are reluctant to hire, they may be pressing their employees to stick around instead of taking days or weeks off. Another factor of the sour economy, some workers simply have less money to spend on vacation, so taking one or part of one for them seems a moot point.

But health experts warn not pushing away from the workplace periodically can take its toll on an employee’s mental and physical health.