Americans aren't taking all of their paid time off from work

An outsized share of American workers don't take all their available paid time off, according to a Pew Research Center survey out Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: The results run counter to the idea that people are trying to work less or are less willing to work hard.

Details: 46% of workers said they take less time off than offered.

  • Slightly more than half of the group said they didn't need to take more time off.

Meanwhile: Only about half of Americans say they are extremely or very satisfied with their job overall.

Pew asked about all paid time off, that includes not only vacation but sick time and personal days. But in explaining why they didn't use all their time off, none of the answers were about people not getting sick.

  • When you drill down by income, lower-wage earners were more likely to worry about losing their job if they took too much time away, said Kim Parker, director of social and demographic trends at Pew.
  • Higher income workers were more likely to keep working because they worried they'd fall behind.

Of note: About 5% of those surveyed got unlimited vacation time — a benefit that's become controversial over the years for leaving workers feeling insecure about when it's OK to take time away.

The intrigue: In the same Pew survey, 89% of workers said that having paid time off for vacations, doctor's visits, or minor illnesses was extremely or very important to them.

  • What explains the mismatch? People want to know that they can take time off if they need to, Parker said.

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