Working Americans Report Economic Perceptions

Working Americans report having mixed feelings when it comes to job security, the economy and worker happiness.

Short-term job security is improving, but at the same time, more workers fear losing their job some day in the future. More Americans think the economy is on the upswing. But this is still a minority opinion contrasted against those who fear the worst is yet to come. And amid this uneasy atmosphere, slightly more workers—61%—are happy on the job, up three points from last year.

These are some of the findings of the Labor Happiness Index, an annual labor study commissioned by the hourly job Web site, which includes 1,000 employed Americans randomly interviewed by telephone by third-party research firm Ipsos Public Affairs.

Thinking about short-term job security, 40% of working Americans say they are feeling more secure in their job than a year ago, a marked increase (11 points) over last year. Also good news, the number of Americans citing job insecurity has shrunk significantly to 35% a group that was over 50% in last year’s study.

“Overall, employed Americans are breathing a bit easier at work because they’ve generally lost that sense that the other shoe is about to drop and they may be out of a job – assuming it hasn’t happened already,” said Shawn Boyer, CEO of “However, some unease still exists because many Americans want to see more positive signs in the economy in order to be confident in a rebound.”

Economic Woes

When it comes to the overall economy:

  • One in 10 working Americans believes that the economy has turned the corner in the last year, a figure that has doubled from last year’s 4%.
  • The majority (55%) says that the economy has stabilized, but is yet to move in a truly positive direction.
  • But 32% still believe the worst is yet to come, down from last year’s 36%.

Long-term job security is in question, especially by males:

  • Nearly one in 10 workers (9%) listed fear of losing their job as their No. 1 long-term concern. That’s three times as many workers as the original 2007 survey (3%).
  • Males, in particular, are concerned about their ability to keep their job in the future, a figure that jumped from 4-11% over the past four years. Similarly, “families and how they will be cared for” was selected as a No. 1 long-term concern by 24% of males in this year’s study, a jump of eight points in four years.
  • Despite a growing concern about long-term job security, the overwhelming future concern for most working Americans is funding large expenses, such as retirement or children’s college education, cited No. 1 by 38% of 2010 survey respondents.

The unemployed are finding new jobs:

  • Two in 10 Americans reported changing jobs in the last year, the same incidence rate as the previous survey.
  • Of those who successfully changed jobs, 34% did so because they were laid off or dismissed from their prior company, and the next-largest group (31%) found a new job by choice.
  • Three in 10 workers (30%) say they are thinking of proactively changing jobs in the near future (up three points).
  • Workers ages 18-to-34 years old are more likely than their older counterpoints to make a job change (47%) versus one quarter (24%) of workers ages 35-to-54 years old.
  • Women (65%) are more likely than men (57%) to be happy in their current job.
  • Those who say they feel less secure in their job than one year ago are less likely (46%) to say they’re happy in their current job.
  • The leading factors contributing to workers’ happiness are personal satisfaction (27%), feeling fortunate to have a job at all (23%), job flexibility (17%) and the paycheck (15%).

Survey methodology:’s fourth annual Labor Happiness Index, conducted July 8-26, 2010 by Ipsos Public Affairs, was culled from a nationally representative sample of 1,000 randomly-selected working adults ages 18 and over residing in the United States. They were interviewed by telephone via Ipsos’ U.S. Telephone Express omnibus. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within +/-3.1% at a 95% confidence level. The margin of error is larger for subgroups. The data was weighted to reflect data from the U.S. Census Bureau.






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