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Study: Most Americans Enjoy Their Work

Although most people are looking forward to a long weekend away from work this time of year, a new survey shows the vast majority of adults are actually happy with their jobs.

Since 1972, an average of about 86% of Americans say they are satisfied with the work they do and nearly half of them say they're very satisfied with their current job. In contrast, only 4% say they are very dissatisfied with their work.

Researchers found job satisfaction increases with age with workers over the age of 65 the most likely to be very satisfied at work (71%). Money doesn't hurt the chances of happiness at work either, with 68% of those making more than $110,000 saying they're very satisfied with their jobs.

The most important factors contributing to more job satisfaction in descending order of importance are holding a job with high prestige, being older, being non-black, and earning more from a job, says researcher Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, in a news release.

Job satisfaction is especially high among those 65 and over because most people working at that age are not those forced to still work due to financial reasons, but those who choose to [do so] because they like their jobs.

The study showed other factors related to job satisfaction include:

  • Education: Only 45% of workers with a high school diploma were satisfied with their careers, compared with 58% of those with post-graduate
    degrees.
  • Prestige: Those in the least prestigious 10% of jobs, such as unskilled manual labor and service occupations, were least likely to report job satisfaction (35%).
  • Race: 40% of blacks compared with 53% of whites were satisfied with their jobs.
  • Location: Workers in South Central states from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee had the highest rates of job satisfaction.

    By Jennifer Warner
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D.
    By Jennifer Warner
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D.
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