They’re upbeat about the people they work with, including their managers, but are less satisfied when it comes to pay and opportunities for promotions. Job satisfaction also differs by age, income, and race, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in February of 5,188 U.S. adults working part or full time.
The findings come after many Americans switched jobs in the last two years and as the job market remains robust, with new pay transparency laws going into effect this year.
“In light of all the upheaval in the labor market over the past few years with the pandemic, the Great Resignation and the trend toward so-called ‘quiet quitting,’ we were really curious to see how workers themselves were experiencing their jobs these days,” Kim Parker, Pew Research Center’s director of social trends research, told Yahoo Finance.
High satisfaction with work relationships
Jerk bosses and annoying colleagues are few and far between, the study found.
Slightly more than half of U.S. workers (51%) say they are extremely or very satisfied with their job overall. More than two-thirds of workers said they are extremely or very satisfied with their relationship with their co-workers, and over three in five said they were extremely or very satisfied with the relationship they have with their manager or supervisor. The bulk of Americans (65%) said they have at least one close friend at work.
“What we found was that, overall, about half of workers say they are highly satisfied with their jobs,” Parker said. “Majorities express satisfaction with their relationships with their co-workers and with their manager.”
“In addition, most workers say they’re treated with respect (78%) and feel they can be themselves at work (72%) all or most of the time, and that their contributions matter,” Parker said.
Overall, more than six in 10 workers said they feel their contributions at work are valued a great deal or a fair amount (62%). And more than four in 10 (44%) were extremely or very satisfied when asked about their opportunities for training or developing new skills.
Satisfaction differs by group
White workers, however, are more likely than Black and Asian workers to be highly satisfied with their relationship with their co-workers (69% vs. 58% and 60%, respectively) and with their manager or supervisor (64% vs. 56% and 54%), according to the report.
Job satisfaction also differs by income. A majority (57%) of those with higher family incomes (greater than roughly $131,500) say they are extremely or very satisfied with their job overall, compared with 51% of those with middle incomes ($43,800 to $131,500) and 45% of those with lower incomes (less than roughly $43,800).
Those with higher incomes are the most likely to say they find their job to be fulfilling all or most of the time; more than half said this (53%) say this, compared with 47% of those with middle incomes and a smaller share (40%) of those with lower incomes.
Those with more advanced education are seemingly more content. Workers with a postgraduate degree (56%) are also more likely than those with a bachelor’s degree (47%) and with some college or less education (44%) to say they find their job to be fulfilling all or most of the time.
Women, though, are more likely than men to say their job is stressful (31% vs. 26% of men) and overwhelming (24% vs. 15%) all or most of the time.
Those who are most satisfied in many aspects of their jobs? Older workers. Those 65 and older are more likely to be extremely or very satisfied with their job overall along with their relationship with their manager or supervisor. More of these workers find their job to be enjoyable and are positive about their day-to-day tasks versus younger cohorts. And they are the most likely to say their employer cares about their well-being a great deal or a fair amount, the survey found.
Pessimism about pay
There was a dollop of discontent. There’s less satisfaction when it comes to pay and promotions. When asked about their views on how much they are paid, roughly a third (34%) of Americans said they were extremely or very satisfied and just 33% said they were extremely or very satisfied with opportunities for promotions at work.
That’s about on par with what the Payscale reported in its bellwether survey, the 2023 Compensation Best Practices Report: Fewer employers are offering pay raises and those that will aren’t exactly being generous.
“In our previous research looking into reasons why workers had left their jobs during 2021, these are the two areas that were cited most often,” Parker said.
The pessimism largely came from those in the lowest-earning and highest-earning tiers. Differences among race and ethnicity also showed up. A larger share of white workers (37%) than Black (29%), Hispanic (29%) or Asian (28%) workers say they are extremely or very satisfied with how much they are paid.
Some 41% of Black workers say that at some point they have experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay or promotions because of their race or ethnicity (though not necessarily by their current employer). This compares with 8% of white workers, 20% of Hispanic workers and 25% of Asian workers.
New pay transparency laws this year could help to advance equity in the workforce, Maggie Hulce, executive vice president and general manager of enterprise at Indeed, previously told Yahoo Finance.
In California and Washington state, laws requiring employers to post salary ranges on all advertised job postings went into effect on Jan. 1. A similar one will follow later this year in New York state. Comparable pay disclosure laws are already in place in Colorado and New York City, while Maryland and Rhode Island require salary information to be provided when an applicant requests it.
By the end of this year, roughly one in four workers will be covered by a state or local law that requires businesses to be transparent about their pay ranges, according to Payscale data.
“More employers are also starting to see it as a competitive edge to attract talent in a tight labor market,” Hulce said. “And pay transparency can also help close pay gaps that still exist across gender, race, and ethnicity.”
Kerry is a Senior Reporter and Columnist at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.
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