Poll: Majority of American workers think their job is “bad or mediocre”

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If you don’t love your job, you’re in the majority. A full 60% of U.S. workers are stranded in mediocre or bad jobs, according to a new Gallup poll. Although the economy has been booming, with a tight labor market and historically low unemployment rates, the poll showed that perhaps not all of these jobs were making workers happy.

The poll asked 6,600 workers about job quality and its dimensions – things like benefits, pay, autonomy, opportunity to advance, and job security.

Good jobs, bad jobs, and in-between

Less than half of U.S. workers are in “good jobs,” at 40%. Meanwhile, 44% of workers are in mediocre jobs and 16% in bad jobs.

If you’re in a good job, however, you’re probably feeling pretty good – in ways that extend beyond your work life. Workers with good jobs experience the highest levels of satisfaction about their lives, at 79%.

Only a third of those in bad jobs responded that they had a high quality of life.

Pay OK, but not quality

While under two-thirds said their level of pay has gone up in recent years, the other dimensions of their job quality have not. Just 37% of workers say that any aspect of job quality (unrelated to pay) has improved during the last five years, according to the report, which was funded by the Lumina Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Omidyar Network.

Job quality is also connected to race and gender. In particular, black women and Asian workers said they had low job quality. Black women were more likely to report that they worked in bad jobs, at 31%.

“We cannot rely on the unemployment rate alone to tell us what is happening with work in America,” Jonathan Rothwell, Gallup principal economist, said in a statement released with the poll. “This survey offers a detailed look at what people value in their jobs and how the feel about their working lives, and it shows that people want more than just a job.”