Job satisfaction keeps falling

Feb 26 2007 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Americans are growing increasingly unhappy with their jobs and the problem is getting worse, with the newest entrants to the workforce the most disillusioned and disengaged they have ever been.

Research by the Conference Board has found that fewer than half of all Americans are satisfied with their jobs, a steady decrease on the six out of 10 who said they were satisfied twenty years ago.

To make matters worse, all the signs point to the problem getting worse rather than better, with the newest entrants to the workforce emerging as the most disillusioned.

The research found that fewer than four out of 10 workers under the age of 25 are satisfied with their jobs, the lowest level of satisfaction overall and the lowest level ever recorded in the two decades the survey has been carried out.

And this decline in satisfaction is not just focussed at the younger end of the workforce. Those aged 45-54 expressed the second lowest level of satisfaction, with less than 45 per cent content with their current job.

At the other end of the scale, nearly half of those aged 55-64 and 65 and over said they were satisfied with their employment situation.

What's more, while the lowest level of job satisfaction were among workers earning $15,000 or less per year, the figure barely exceeds half (52 per cent) even for those

whose earnings exceed $50,000 per year.

One clue as to the reasons for this widespread discontent is the fact that job satisfaction tends to rise as hours worked per week increases, but begin to recede at a life-sapping 60 or more hours.

Location plays a part, too, with satisfaction levels ranging from a miserable 41 percent in the Middle Atlantic states (NY, NJ and PA) to a height of 56 percent in the Mountain states (MT, ID, WY, NV, UT, CO, AZ, NM).

Bonus plans and promotion policies were also identified as big sources of unhappiness, with less than a quarter (23 per cent) of those surveyed saying they were satisfied with their company's policies.

Performance review processes, workload, work/life balance, communication channels and potential for future growth came in for similarly heavy criticism, with only around a third of respondents satisfied with these aspects of their working lives.

"Although a certain amount of dissatisfaction with one's job is to be expected, the breadth of dissatisfaction is somewhat unsettling, since it carries over from what attracts employees to a job to what keeps them motivated and productive on the job," said Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

"Perhaps, this is why two out of every ten employees does not see himself in his current job a year from now."