U.S. job satisfaction lower than in two decades, new survey finds

Americans across all ages and incomes continue to grow increasingly unhappy with their jobs, extending a 22-year decline documented in an annual survey sponsored by non-profit business research and policy think tank The Conference Board that was released Thursday. 

The results found that employee satisfaction has dropped more than 15 percentage points, to 45%, since 1987, the first year the survey was conducted.

"Through both economic boom and bust during the past two decades, our job satisfaction numbers have shown a consistent downward trend," Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center, said in a news release. "While one in 10 Americans is now unemployed, their working compatriots of all ages and incomes continue to grow increasingly unhappy."

Almost one-quarter of respondents also reported that they don’t expect to be in their current job in a year, which confirms the findings of a survey conducted at the end of last year by online job search site CareerBuilder.com.

Fewer Americans are satisfied with every aspect of their work and no age group was immune: Baby Boomers to members of Generation Y all showed declining job satisfaction, according to the survey. The drop in job satisfaction also was evident in all other categories the survey measured, from interest in work (down 18.9 percentage points) to job security (down 17.5 percentage points). This was also true across the four "key drivers" The Conference Board has concluded are necessary for a high level of "employee engagement:" job design, organizational health, managerial quality and extrinsic rewards.

Employers should view the data as a "big red flag," John Gibbons, program director of employee engagement research and services at The Conference Board, said in the news release, because the increase in work dissatisfaction is not just a result of the widespread layoffs and other workplace cuts employees have endured in the Great Recession.

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