With unemployment hovering close to 10 percent, common sense says that anybody who has a job should be pretty happy about it. Not so, says the business research firm Conference Board.
Its annual survey found that most workers, 55 percent, were unhappy with their jobs; only 45 percent were satisfied. The discontent could be explained by recession-related uncertainty — layoffs, outsourcing, bankruptcies, wage stagnation — except that the happiness quotient has been falling steadily through booms and busts in the 22 years the survey has been conducted.
In 1987, the first year of the survey, 61 percent of workers said they were happy in their jobs, 16 points better than in the current survey. In other findings:
* Only 51 percent find their jobs interesting. In 1987, nearly 70 percent did.
* 56 percent say they like their co-workers, down from 68 percent in 1987.
* 51 percent are satisfied with their bosses, down from 60 percent.
Those most unhappy with their jobs were the youngest, with 64 percent of workers under 25 reporting dissatisfaction, a reflection perhaps of the paucity of entry-level jobs with real opportunities.
Economists interviewed by the Associated Press said the dissatisfaction could have a negative impact on innovation, productivity and, ultimately, America’s competitiveness.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy drew snickers when, in advance of the G-20 meeting last year, he suggested that happiness be measured as an economic indicator and factored into calculations of gross domestic product. Cynics suggested that Sarkozy reckoned that France, with its long vacations and lunch hours and greater job security, would fare better measured against the U.S., which had outstripped France’s GDP growth for the past 30 years.
But if the Conference Board is right, maybe Sarkozy is on to something.