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U.S. Worker Satisfaction With Job Safety Down Amid COVID

U.S. Worker Satisfaction With Job Safety Down Amid COVID

Story Highlights

  • 65% are completely satisfied with their physical safety at work
  • Down from 74% a year ago, and the lowest since 2001
  • Workers more satisfied with co-worker relations than other job aspects

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sixty-five percent of U.S. workers say they are completely satisfied with the physical safety conditions at their workplace, down significantly from 74% a year ago. The decline comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has made workplace environments risky due to contact with co-workers or the public. Satisfaction with workplace safety was last at this level in 2001. It had been as high as 79% just three years ago.


Line graph. Sixty five percent of US workers are completely satisfied with the physical safety conditions at their workplace down from 74% last year.

The results are from Gallup's annual Work and Education poll, conducted July 30-Aug. 12.

Lower-income workers, those without a college degree, and men are among the groups who have had the largest declines in satisfaction with workplace safety. These groups are more likely than others to hold jobs that can be considered blue collar, including service, repair and factory jobs.

Satisfaction With Safety Conditions at Work Down Most Among Men, College Nongraduates and Lower-Income Workers
2019 2020 Change
% % Pct. Pts.
All Workers 74 65 -9
Men 79 65 -14
Women 68 65 -3
White workers 78 69 -9
Non-White workers 67 59 -8
College graduate 71 71 0
College nongraduate 77 61 -16
Annual household income less than $75,000 72 55 -17
Annual household income $75,000 or higher 78 73 -5

Many white-collar workers have shifted to fulltime remote work during the pandemic. As might be expected, workers who are now working primarily or entirely from home are generally satisfied with their physical safety conditions - 74% say they are. In contrast, 61% of those who indicate they are working mostly or completely outside their home are satisfied.

Worker Satisfaction With Other Job Aspects Generally Steady

In addition to workplace safety, Gallup measures worker satisfaction with 12 other job aspects. Satisfaction did not change to a meaningful degree on any of the aspects besides workplace safety.

Prior to this year, workplace safety was typically one of the job aspects with which workers were most satisfied. Now, it has fallen behind co-worker relations (75%) and the flexibility of work hours (68%). Satisfaction with job security (64%) and one's boss or immediate supervisor (63%) are similar to satisfaction with workplace safety.

Workers are least satisfied with the amount of stress associated with their job (35%) and the amount of money they earn (39%).

U.S. Worker Satisfaction With Job Aspects
Now I'll read a list of job characteristics. For each, please tell me how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with your current job in this regard. First, are you completely satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or completely dissatisfied with [RANDOM ORDER]?
Completely satisfied, 2019 Completely satisfied, 2020 Change
% % Pct. Pts.
Your relations with co-workers 74 75 1
The flexibility of your hours 64 68 4
The physical safety conditions of your workplace 74 65 -9
Your job security 65 64 -1
Your boss or immediate supervisor 59 63 4
The amount of work that is required of you 58 60 2
The recognition you receive at work for your work accomplishments 52 57 5
The amount of vacation time you receive 56 54 -2
Your chances for promotion 44 48 4
The health insurance benefits your employer offers 41 43 2
The retirement plan your employer offers 36 41 5
The amount of money you earn 37 39 2
The amount of on-the-job stress in your job 34 35 1

In addition to workplace safety conditions, remote and onsite workers differ on job security, only in this case, it is onsite workers who are more satisfied (69%) than remote workers (53%), perhaps reflecting increased workloads of frontline workers. The two types of workers show similar levels of satisfaction on all other work aspects measured in the survey.


The coronavirus has temporarily, if not permanently, transformed the way most Americans work. In general, the changes have not significantly altered the way employed Americans view their jobs, with the exception of a decline in satisfaction with their physical safety at work. This decline was perhaps unavoidable given how contagious the coronavirus is, and is the case even though many employers are taking precautions to keep their employers safe. But such precautions, which are becoming increasingly common, may have helped prevent an even steeper decline in worker satisfaction with their safety. Of course, many workers are avoiding COVID-19 exposure by working remotely; Gallup estimates one in four workers are now fulltime remote workers.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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