Monday, February 26, 2007

What's Going on with Job Satisfaction?

A recent survey of 5000 people by The Conference Board concludes:

Americans are growing increasingly unhappy with their jobs, The Conference Board reports today. The decline in job satisfaction has occurred over a period of two decades, with little to suggest a significant reversal in attitudes anytime soon.

Today, less than half of all Americans say they are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61 percent twenty years ago.

However, last year, a study by the PEW center found:
Nearly nine-in-ten employed adults in this survey say they are either completely (28%) or mostly (61%) satisfied with their own jobs, a level of satisfaction on par with findings from similar national surveys taken in 1989 and 1997.
While I do not know the exact question asked in the first survey, I can't imagine that differences in questions wording can create differences of this magnitude. For instance, imagine that the first survey asked people to indicate if they were satisfied or dissatisfied (instead of the three choices in the PEW survey). In this case, we have to believe that the majority of people who indicate being mostly satisfied with their jobs would indicate being dissatisfied if only given a binary choice. Does that seem reasonable?

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