Special Report

Countries With the Best (and Worst) Jobs

Not only do people the world over rely on their jobs for their livelihood, but economic growth is the result of people working in one occupation or another. Professional lives vary considerably around the world, however, and the difference between gainful employment and true job satisfaction is often vast.

Based on “Where the Great Jobs Are,” a report released this October through a partnership of survey company Gallup and nonprofit advocacy group Meridian International, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the countries most likely to provide “great” jobs. Survey participants were asked 12 questions, which Gallup used to determine the level of engagement among workers in each country. Great jobs are full-time, engaging occupations. Panama and the United States lead the world with 13% of adults in each country who have great jobs.

Click here to see the countries with the best jobs.

Click here to see the countries with the worst jobs.

In more than 20 countries at the bottom of Gallup’s survey, job satisfaction is very poor with less than 1% of adults employed in a great job. For this reason, 24/7 Wall St. ranked the 10 bottom countries based on the percentage of adults who have “good” jobs — defined as full-time, steady employment, excluding self-employed. Just 5% of adults in Burkina Faso have a good job, the lowest in the world.

According to former U.S. Ambassador for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations Stuart Holliday, president and CEO of Meridian International, traditional measures of economic health such as unemployment rate and GDP per capita are inadequate. “We have been measuring progress using indicators that really don’t represent what’s happening on the ground in these countries,” Holliday said.

GDP and unemployment do not correlate with one another and often fail to reflect what is actually going on in a country. For Holliday, the most remarkable finding of Gallup’s survey is also the considerable difference between a good and a great job.

A majority of adults in only five countries surveyed had good jobs, quite low compared with traditional employment rates. Looking at the prevalence of great jobs, even the world’s economic leaders had only around 10% of adults reporting such job satisfaction.

The official unemployment rate in most countries includes people looking or struggling to find work, as well as self-employed subsistence farmers and part-time workers — and many of the employed are living in poverty. Not only does the unemployment rate fail to capture the plight of underemployed individuals, but also full-time, steady employment does not necessarily mean satisfying and rewarding work. “A great job goes beyond that,” Holliday said.

High volumes of great jobs are typically found in countries with highly developed economies. “That would be a sort of a traditional economic indicator of an environment where there’s good education, rule of law, less corruption,” Holliday explained.

Advanced economies tend to be relatively large, and the countries with the most great jobs have relatively high GDP per capita. However, only three national economies — the United States, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait — are in the top 10 among countries surveyed.

All of the countries with the worst jobs, on the other hand, have GDP per capita of less than $3,000. By contrast, the U.S. GDP per capita is nearly $50,000.

The countries with the best jobs also tend to have relatively well-educated populations, while the opposite tends to be true among the bottom 10 countries. The literacy rate among adults in all of the countries with the best jobs, for example, exceeds 94%.

To identify the countries with the best jobs, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of adults in each of 139 countries reporting “great” jobs. To identify the countries with the worst jobs, we reviewed the share of adults in each of 139 countries reporting “good” jobs. The data came from “Where the Great Jobs Are”, a report released jointly by Gallup and Meridian International this October. The report is based on a Gallup survey containing 12 questions. GDP per capita came from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and is shown in international dollars, which adjust for currency price disparities and cost of living. Unemployment rates also came from the IMF. Education attainment rates, poverty rates, life expectancy, and literacy rates came from the World Bank. All figures are for the most recent available year. Labor market indices came from the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Competitiveness Report.

These are the countries with the best and worst jobs.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.