WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup Daily tracking reveals that 7 in 10 employed Americans say their jobs are ideal, leaving nearly one-third of the U.S. workforce who feel their jobs aren't exactly right for them.
"'Ideal' perceptions also differ somewhat by education level: 77% of workers with postgraduate education report that their jobs are ideal, the highest among all education levels; by contrast, 63% of those with some college say this."
These results are based on interviews with more than 18,000 employed U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, conducted during January 2010. While majorities of respondents at all income levels report that their jobs are ideal, the percentage saying so increases with income. Americans with annual household incomes of at least $120,000 per year are the most likely to say their jobs are ideal (77%), while those making less than $12,000 per year are the least likely (57%).
Ideal Job and Work Sector
Perceptions of one's job as "ideal" also differ by job sector. Business owners (87%), farmers (82%), and professional workers (79%), such as lawyers, doctors, teachers, and accountants, are the most likely to say their jobs are ideal. Manufacturing or production workers (61%), clerical or office workers (61%), and those in service jobs (60%), such as barbers, nurse's aides, policemen, firefighters, and waiters, are the least likely to say their jobs are ideal.
In light of the relationship between income and ideal job status, it may come as no surprise that business owners and professional workers are two of the most likely groups to say their jobs are ideal, as these sectors also tend to receive higher pay than service and clerical workers do. However, differences between groups persist, even when controlling for household income. For example, when professionals and service workers are compared, differences in ideal job ratings are seen at nearly all income levels.
Older Workers Are Most Likely to Say Jobs Are Ideal
Workers aged 50 to 65 are among the most likely to say their jobs are ideal (78%), while about half (52%) of Americans aged 18 to 29 say the same. "Ideal" perceptions also differ somewhat by education level: 77% of workers with postgraduate education report that their jobs are ideal, the highest among all education levels; by contrast, 63% of those with some college say this. Men and women are equally likely to say their jobs are ideal (70% each). Non-Hispanic whites (73%) give their jobs more favorable evaluations than do blacks (62%), Hispanics (64%), or Asians (67%).
At a time when job growth remains stagnant and many are being forced to take on work below their qualifications, the majority of American workers evaluate their jobs favorably. Although household income is correlated with one's ideal job, it isn't the only factor driving "ideal" job evaluations. Demographics suggest that experienced, educated workers in specialized fields view their jobs most favorably, while those who are at the beginning of their careers and working in professions not generally associated with advanced educational attainment (clerical, service, retail, and manufacturing) are among the least likely to say their jobs are ideal.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 18,269 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 2-31, 2010. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ± 1 percentage point.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.