If You Like Your Job, You’re in the Minority

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Almost 60% of Americans would change careers according to a recent survey conducted by Yahoo! Finance and Parade magazine. That’s just one of a number of startling results:

  • Most Americans (28%) don’t expect to retire until they are 66-70 years old.
  • More (56%) would welcome a 5% pay increase than more vacation.
  • More (62%) would rather have a nicer workspace than a shorter commute.
  • More than half (51%) think the way to get ahead at work is by playing internal politics (only 27% think that hard work will do the trick).

A related finding is that 53% of Americans have less than 3 months salary in savings, of which 27% have none at all. Only 15% have 4-6 months salary saved.

To hazard a few guesses about what this all means, the first would be that job opportunities in the U.S. simply are not broad enough to offer workers the kind of job that leads to a satisfying career. Second, if people have to work at jobs they don’t particularly like, they should be paid better. Third, workers don’t have enough opportunities for advancement, thus the feeling that politics plays a large role in promotion decisions.

Another guess about the lack of satisfaction would be that the constant stream of bad news about the poor U.S. economy magnifies the effect of the other factors. If workers are in jobs they don’t particularly like at barely livable wages with little chance of advancement, it’s probably no wonder they are unhappy.

Similarly, because wages are low it is difficult for many people to save, which means they must plan to work longer. That’s not a happy prospect for people who may have worked for 35 years or more.

Paul Ausick

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