On the heels of a relatively cheery government jobs report comes news that American workers are hop-skippingly happy with their jobs. What’s more, we love our bosses.
The nation’s employers added 92,000 jobs last month, bringing the average monthly gain for 2006 up to about 150,000 per month. The unemployment rate fell to 4.4%–the lowest since May 2001. Job gains came mainly in the service sector, many of them white-collar: 43,000 were in professional and business services, of which 15,000 were temp workers.
What a coinkydink, then, that I receive this survey today from Kelly Services, the temp agency. It reads:
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. employees–65%–reported that they were either happy or very happy with their current position, while a mere 16% were at the opposite end of the satisfaction spectrum.
That apparently puts American workers ahead of Hungary, Russia and Turkey on the Happy Meter. Okay. This I get. I figure factory workers in Siberia aren’t glowing with content. But the survey says we’re less happy than workers in Denmark, Mexico and Sweden. Mexico? I risk making an un-P.C. joke here about immigration, so I’ll just shut up. But come on.
The survey continues:
Job satisfaction is also heavily influenced by how employees view their bosses. Asked to rate their bosses on a 10-point scale, the American workers gave theirs a respectable 7.3, on average–second only to the 7.6 their Mexican counterparts gave their bosses.
Again with Mexico! It’s apparently a worker’s utopia, its offices teeming with adoring employees throwing rose petals in the paths of their magnanimous bosses.
The only explanation I can muster is that we Americans do like to kvetch. Nearly one in three of us grouse that we’re “never” rewarded for work well done, though, to be fair, 58% say they are.
Our happiness in our jobs doesn’t seem to be dictated by the gender of our bosses. Three quarters of us don’t care if our bosses are male or female, though 15% admit a preference for men and 10% for women. Job sectors do seem to matter: 80% of those in travel and leisure profess contentment in their work (it’s not hard to smile when you’re mixing margaritas at some bar in Waikiki); 74% of teachers say they’re happy (okay, that’s a little more suspicious); and 70% of engineers love their jobs (they were also the kids who loved school).
Jobs growth is indeed happy news for American workers (but let’s parse these numbers in a future posting; there are lies, damn lies and statistics, and then there are government figures). And I’ve got a solution for the 16% who aren’t happy in their jobs: they can move to Mexico.