Politics and Public Opinion

How’s your job? What the polls have to say about work

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

For the past five years, we have released a compilation of polls around Labor Day on people’s attitudes about their jobs. The State of the American Worker 2013 will be released next week in time for the Labor Day holiday. Here are a few highlights.

Work satisfaction: Most Americans who have jobs are highly satisfied with them. In Gallup’s latest, 89% were either completely (47%) or somewhat (42%) satisfied with them. In Pew’s late 2012 question, 89% said they were either completely (31%) or mostly (58%) satisfied. The financial crisis five years ago had little negative impact on overall satisfaction for those with jobs.

In a new Gallup survey, 68% said they would continue working if they won $10 million in the lottery. A plurality of this group said they would stay in their current job.

Job anxiety: While job satisfaction remained stable, the financial crisis of September 2008 produced considerable job anxiety. In Gallup’s August 2009 poll, for example, 31% of employed respondents said they were worried that they would be laid off in the near future, double what the response was in August 2008. The 2009 response represented the highest level of anxiety since the Gallup trend began in 1997. By 2012, anxiety had lessened: 28% worried that they would be laid off in the near future.

In an April 2013 question from Gallup, 18% said it was very or fairly likely they would lose a job or be laid off in the next year, down slightly from 21% in 2010.

In 2009, anxiety about wages being reduced and benefits being cut was especially high. Thirty-two percent worried their wages would be reduced in Gallup’s August 2009 poll. Today, 28% have this worry. In 2009, 46% worried their benefits would be cut: that response is 40% now.

Earnings: In Gallup’s August 2013 survey, 69% were satisfied (29% completely and 40% somewhat) with the amount of money they earned. Satisfaction in this area edged up slightly in 2009, perhaps because those with jobs were happy to have them.

Stress: How much stress you have in your life depends in part on where you are in the life cycle. When you have young children and work, it isn’t surprising that you have more stress. In Pew’s 2013 Modern Parenthood survey, 68% of employed adults with no children under 18 said it was not too or not at all difficult to balance work and family. Forty-seven percent of employed adults with children under 18 gave that response.

And speaking of work, we’re taking the next week off. Have a great Labor Day weekend.

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