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U.S. Worker Statistics Similar to Pre-Recession Levels

U.S. Worker Statistics Similar to Pre-Recession Levels

But workers are staying at their companies longer

by Lymari Morales

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The percentage of employed Americans saying they work for a private company edged up this year to 58%, having been entrenched at 52% since the global economic collapse in 2008. For the most part, however, the percentage of Americans in private, government, nonprofit, and self-run employment has remained remarkably steady over the past decade.

Type of employer over past decade

The findings are from a Gallup poll conducted Aug. 9-12, 2012, marking an update of a question Gallup has asked each August since 2001. Each year, between 50% to 60% of employed Americans have reported working for a private company, while about two in 10 have reported working for the government or being self-employed, and about one in 10 have reported working for a nonprofit.

The number of hours employed Americans work in a typical week has also been largely steady over the past decade. The plurality of American workers (42%) report working 35-44 hours per week, while 29% report working 45-59 hours weekly and 13% report working more than 60 hours per week. An additional 17% in the U.S. report working less than 34 hours weekly. These data suggest employed Americans are not working significantly more or less hours today than they were before the global economic collapse, or even prior to that.

How many hours worked in a typical week?

Workers Staying at Their Companies Longer

Gallup finds workers in 2012 report staying at their current company more years on average than they did in 2002, having only asked that question twice. The average time at one's current company is 9.2 years in 2012 compared with an average of 7.4 years in 2002. Workers became less likely over the past decade to report working at their company for fewer than five years, and more likely to report working at their company for more than five years. These figures could reflect an aging population, or perhaps workers sticking it out with their current company through tough economic times, or a combination of both.

How many years worked for current company?


In a world of higher unemployment compared with 2002, employed Americans have largely maintained the status quo in terms of the sectors in which they work and how many hours they tend to put in each week. It remains to be seen if and how this will change as the result of decreasing unemployment and shifts in the nation's job creation climate. The entrenched nature of Gallup's trend on these items suggests that new jobs will likely fall in line with existing jobs in terms of the percentage of Americans they employ and to what capacity.

At the same time, as more jobs are created, workers may be more likely to jump from their current place of employment to a new opportunity. As such, it could be argued that today's economy is an employer's economy in terms of their likelihood to retain workers without much attention to employee engagement. A more robust economy will likely require more from employers who want to keep their best talent from going elsewhere.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 9-12, 2012, with a random sample of 1,012 adults, aged 18+, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of error is ±4 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 492 adults employed full- or part-time, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cellphone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cellphone-only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

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.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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