Think Americans who have jobs in this economy are thrilled just due to getting paid? Think again. According to a new survey by the Conference Board, only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work. That’s the lowest level in 22 years of the survey being run.
The cause of the mass unhappiness isn’t clear, and while the recession certainly factors in (I’d bet salary freezes and Plexiglas ceilings aren’t helping matters) worker dissatisfaction has been on the rise for more than two decades, according to the report.
Again, this leads back to my question of — what makes us happy? The rise of unhappiness in work seems to match the rise of television being controlled by the five largest media corporations, and advertising becoming a prominent part of our lives. With all of the negative messages we receive every day about how we’re not good enough, it seems no level of work — or money — can make us truly happy.
The study notes that workers claim their unhappiness stems from issues such as boring jobs, incomes that haven’t kept up with inflation, and the soaring cost of health insurance.
“If the job satisfaction trend is not reversed, economists say, it could stifle innovation and hurt America’s competitiveness and productivity,” reports the AP. umer Research Center.
Workers under 25 expressed the highest level of dissatisfaction. Roughly 64 percent of workers under 25 say they were unhappy in their jobs. The recession has been especially hard on young workers, who face fewer opportunities now and lower wages, some analysts say.
Conference Board officials and outside economists suggested that weak wage growth helps explain why workers’ unhappiness has been rising for more than 20 years. After growing in the 1980s and 1990s, average household incomes adjusted for inflation have been shrinking since 2000.
Some other key findings of the survey:
• Forty-three percent of workers feel secure in their jobs. In 2008, 47 percent said they feel secure in their jobs, while 59 percent felt that way in 1987.
• Fifty-six percent say they like their co-workers, slightly less than the 57 percent who said so last year but down from 68 percent in 1987.
• Fifty-six percent say they are satisfied with their commute to work even as commute times have grown longer over the years. That compares with 54 percent in 2008 and 63 percent in 1987.
• Fifty-one percent say their are satisfied with their boss. That’s down from 55 percent in 2008 and around 60 percent two decades ago.