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U.S. Workers Least Happy With Their Work Stress and Pay

U.S. Workers Least Happy With Their Work Stress and Pay

PRINCETON, NJ -- U.S. workers are the least satisfied with their on-the-job stress and the money they make, out of 13 aspects of work conditions rated in Gallup's annual Work and Education poll. Less than a third say they are completely satisfied with each. They are most satisfied with the physical safety conditions of their workplace, followed by their relations with coworkers.

U.S. Employees' Satisfaction With 13 Job Aspects
Less than half of U.S. workers employed full- or part-time feel completely satisfied with most of the aspects of work measured in the Aug. 9-12 survey. In addition to stress and pay, U.S. workers are the least satisfied with their employer's retirement plan, their chances for promotion, and their health benefits. No more than 35% of workers are satisfied with each of these.

These ratings contrast with the more than half of workers who feel completely satisfied with other aspects of their work, including relations with coworkers, physical safety conditions, flexibility of their hours, their boss, and vacation time. Workers' satisfaction is more mixed when it comes to job security, workload, and recognition for the work they do. While large majorities are at least somewhat satisfied with each of these three, just under half are completely satisfied.

Rankings Change Little From Last Year

Gallup finds little change in workers' satisfaction with each of the 13 work attributes this year versus August 2011. The only significant change is a drop, from 39% to 33%, in the percentage completely satisfied with their chances for promotion. However, compared with 2001, when Gallup initiated annual measurement of this question, satisfaction today is up slightly with physical safety conditions, workplace recognition for one's accomplishments, on-the-job stress, and the amount of money earned.


Gallup's longer-term trend in satisfaction with healthcare benefits shows that current satisfaction is below the level seen in most years since 2001, except for 2006 and 2011, when satisfaction also dipped below 60%. Notably, while the percentage of Americans who are completely satisfied with their health benefits is roughly the same now as it was in 2001, the percentage somewhat satisfied has fallen, indicating a greater polarization of views on this issue today.

The sharp decline in overall satisfaction with employer health benefits since 2008 may reflect the decline from roughly 50% to 45% over the same period in the percentage of American workers who have employer-based health insurance.

Trend: Satisfaction With Employer Healthcare Benefits

Majority of Workers Less Than Completely Satisfied With Jobs Overall

Overall, just under half of American workers, 47%, are completely satisfied with their job, while 42% are somewhat satisfied, and a combined 11% are either completely or somewhat dissatisfied.

The percentage completely satisfied has risen from below 45% in 2001-2003 to consistently above 45% since 2007. While this is a positive sign, it does not clearly indicate that American employees are engaged at work -- something that Gallup research has shown is closely connected to productivity and job creation.

Bottom Line

Although job market conditions have improved in the last three years, they remain challenging, likely causing many workers to be especially grateful to have a job, regardless of the specifics. This may be reflected in the consistently higher percentages of Americans in recent years saying they are completely satisfied with their job. Still, the majority (53%) remain either dissatisfied or only somewhat satisfied.

Both for the good of individuals and the health of the economy, it is important that workers feel encouraged and connected at work. The good news out of these data is that nearly 7 in 10 U.S. workers report high satisfaction with their fellow employees. Of concern, however, relative to fostering highly engaged workplaces, is that barely half of workers feel the same level of satisfaction with their boss or immediate supervisor.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 9-12, 2012, with a random sample of 1,012 adults, aged 18 and older, 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 maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

For results based on the total sample of 492 adults employed full or part time, one can say with 95% confidence that 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.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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