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Never mind the economy Job satisfaction's up

Older workers tend to be happiest in their jobs, poll shows. But many are stressed.

By Christopher D. Kirkpatrick
ckirkpatrick@charlotteobserver.com

More Information

  • Percentage of workers who say they are satisfied with…

    Physical safety conditions: 73 percent

    Relationships with colleagues: 69 percent

    Flexibility of hours: 64 percent

    Job security: 55 percent

    The boss: 53 percent

    Vacation time received: 51 percent

    Work required: 50 percent

    Recognition for accomplishments: 45 percent

    Health insurance benefits: 40 percent

    Retirement plan offered: 34 percent

    Amount of money earned: 27 percent

    Survey of 557 adults employed full or part time. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.


  • Al Bush plans to launch Legacy Bank in October in the SouthPark area. The president and chief executive wants to educate the community about finances, he said. “I want to be able to help other people out using all the knowledge and skills and the blessings I've had. We want to go out and do some good in terms of community financial literacy.” The 48-year-old is a self-described country boy from Ohio who won a scholarship to Wesleyan University and then earned an MBA from Columbia University in New York. “I got the Wall Street finance bug.”


  • Percentage of workers who say they are satisfied with…

    Physical safety conditions: 73 percent

    Relationships with colleagues: 69 percent

    Flexibility of hours: 64 percent

    Job security: 55 percent

    The boss: 53 percent

    Vacation time received: 51 percent

    Work required: 50 percent

    Recognition for accomplishments: 45 percent

    Health insurance benefits: 40 percent

    Retirement plan offered: 34 percent

    Amount of money earned: 27 percent

    Survey of 557 adults employed full or part time. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.



With pessimism about the economy near all-time lows, Americans are finding silver linings at work.

We might gripe about the boss or work hours, but 48 percent of Americans are “completely satisfied” with their jobs, according to a Gallop Poll conducted Aug. 7-10. That's near the highest level in a decade for the 20-year-old annual survey. Another 42 percent said they were “somewhat satisfied.”

“I'm pleasantly surprised,” said Antwon Keith, manager of the Employment Security Commission in Mecklenburg County. “In general, most Americans understand these are hard times and those who are working are thankful to be working.”

The results were consistent across income and gender. But the older you are, the more satisfied you tend to be.

About 42 percent of those from 18 to 34 said they were completely satisfied. That compares with 57 percent in the 55-and-older group.

The workplace is changing rapidly, with more Americans grabbing new opportunities to work from home to counteract high gas prices and spend more time with family.

It's not all rosy, however. Gallop reported only 27 percent were satisfied with the level of stress at their jobs, and only 35 percent said they were satisfied with chances for promotion. More than half say they're underpaid. About 3 percent said they were overpaid.

Tom Kelly, a compensation expert with the human resources firm Watson Wyatt in Charlotte, said his firm's research shows a communication breakdown between management and employees when it comes to understanding satisfaction.

Employers report compensation as the No. 1 reason employees leave. But among top performing employees surveyed who have left jobs, it's the fifth most popular reason, Kelly said. Issues with stress, work-life balance and opportunities for advancement finished higher, he said. The research also showed satisfaction is tied to how engaged a worker is with the business and its success.

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