Special Report

America's Most Hated Industries

Americans are not happy with the government. But for the first time in a long while, it is not the most hated industry in the country. That honor now belongs to the oil and gas industry as a result of climbing prices at the pumps and the BP oil spill still fresh in many people’s minds.

Read: America’s Most Hated Industries

A new poll conducted by Gallup asked thousands of Americans how they felt about 25 of the nation’s largest industries — positive, neutral or negative. Some 73% of responses for computers, the highest-rated industry, were positive. On the other end of the spectrum, only 22% felt positive about banking, while more than 60% felt negative. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 industries in the private sector that Americans hate.

Of the industries surveyed by Gallup, the majority that did well involve discretionary spending. The four with the most positive response — the Internet, restaurants, retail and computers — are all things Americans use primarily for leisure. Conversely, the industries that received the most negative response are those considered necessities — banking, oil and gas, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Many of those industries, such as oil and gas, the pharmaceutical industry and the legal field, have always had a negative image. In many cases, perception has improved in recent years for some of these. In the health care industry, positive perception increased from 27% in 2011 to 42% in 2012, the biggest improvement in positive opinion in the country.

Other industries on this list, such as banking and real estate, have not always had such a strong negative image, but have developed a more negative profile in recent years. In the case of these two specific industries, this may be largely the result of the subprime mortgage crisis. Banking has seen the biggest increase in negative image since the survey was first conducted, with 23% responding negatively in 2001 compared to the 53% responding negatively in 2012.

Dr. Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, confirmed that negative feelings about the subprime mortgage crisis were likely the strongest cause of the recent growth in negative perception for the real estate . Despite negative perception, Newport suggests it’s not directed at real estate agents. “With the mortgage crisis of recent years, we’re not thinking about our local Re/Max estate agent who’s a nice person. We’re think about the big repackagers of mortgages and subprime mortgages, and how those have all gone wrong.”

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 private sector industries with the most overall negative views among the 25 industries Gallup included in its annual Work and Education survey. We also reviewed the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), which employs a multiequation econometric model to score industries on a 0-100 scale.

These are America’s most hated industries.

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