The Wall Street Journal's Job Satisfaction Hits a 10-Year High—But It’s Still Below 50% covers the results from The Conference Board's annual job satisfaction survey.
As the chart on the left below from the WSJ article shows, just under half (49.6%) of U.S. workers surveyed reported they are satisfied with their jobs.
While lower by quite a bit than the 60%+ levels in the 1980s, satisfaction is at a 10 year high and well above its low of just over 40% in 2010.
Key quote on the drivers behind the increase in satisfaction levels:
An improving labor market, a decline in layoffs, stronger wage growth and expanding job opportunities are driving that increase, said Gad Levanon, the board’s chief economist for North America.
But despite the increase in job satisfaction by traditional job holders, it's still substantially below the job satisfaction levels reported by independent workers.
Data from the 2016 MBO Partners State of Independent study shows that 65% of independent workers report being highly satisfied with their work (see the chart on right above). An additional 17% report being satisfied, which we left off the chart to make the two sets of data more comparable.
These job satisfaction levels have also increased since 2011, with the same reason being a key driver. An improving economy makes work better for everyone. Another reason independent worker satisfaction has been going up is dissatisfied independents have been taking advantage of the strong job market and returning to traditional jobs.
While the survey questions used to ascertain job satisfaction were different across the two studies, they are close enough to make the numbers reasonably comparable. If anything, this comparison understates the higher satisfaction rate of independent workers due to the way we adjusted our numbers down to better match the approach The Conference Board uses.
The reasons independent workers are, on average, more satisfied continue to be greater levels of work autonomy, control and flexibility. These are also the reasons independent workers tend to list to explain why they are happier and healthier since they started working independently.
Being unhappy and unsatisfied with a job is one of the key reasons people choose to become independent workers. So as traditional job satisfaction levels rise, we would expect to see less movement towards independent work. We would also expect to see people dissatisfied with independent work return to traditional jobs.
This is exactly what we've seen over the past year.
Having said hat, we believe the long term trends and drivers for the continued growth of the contingent workforce are still in place.
So while we have brought our forecast down, we continue to forecast steady growth in the number the independent workers over the next 5 years.