Not Happy! African Americans Have Lowest Job Satisfaction in Country
Job satisfaction has been relatively low of late for African-Americans.
The American workplace can be very unforgiving. It tends to demand longer hours and offer fewer benefits and vacation time than its counterparts in other areas of the world. It’s a little bit of a revelation, then, to discover that people in this country actually have a relatively high rate of satisfaction in their jobs. But not everyone is so enthusiastic about their workplace; in one influential poll, African-Americans scored the lowest in job satisfaction rates among all other demographics.
Gallup is the well-known research company that conducts a job satisfaction survey. Throughout most of 2008 Gallup respondents who indicated they were satisfied with their jobs floated around the 89% level, but dropped one percentage point as soon as 2009 rolled around. From there, it was more or less a smooth ride downwards to the 86.9% of summer 2010 before recovering to the mid-87% range the following spring (the latest monthly figure released by the company).
But not all job satisfaction numbers are created equal.
Gallup breaks its results down by such factors as race, age and income bracket. Comparing its poll results from the first four months of 2011 with the same period of 2008, the company found that the ethnic group that saw the least difference between the two time frames was African-Americans, in other words their level of job satisfaction barely moved at all. This is not a good thing, as they were the group with the lowest rate of all the demographic elements surveyed. Only 83.1% of blacks polled in January-April 2011 said they were satisfied at work and while this was a slight improvement over January-April 2008’s 82.2% it lagged significantly behind everyone else. Beating these rates handily were whites (90.2% and 88.9%, respectively), Asians (88.2% and 86.3%), women (88.7%, 87.8%) and Hispanics, even though they showed the biggest drop in satisfaction over the two periods (87.5% to 84.9%).
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A more recent study on the same subject conducted by the Society For Human Resource Management was released earlier this year. This survey offers some clues as to why blacks had such low results. In addition to asking about job satisfaction, the company also polled its respondents as to what aspects of their job made them satisfied or dissatisfied. The number one factor, according to those asked, was job security, with 63% of respondents saying that this was crucial. Since many African-Americans work in positions that don’t pay handsomely, they can find themselves in a situation where their work is the first to be cut in an employer’s effort to downsize (very often, the lowest-wage jobs are the first to go) - hence, a pronounced lack of security. Along these lines, the number two factor – “opportunities to use skills and abilities” – fits this potential logic, as poorly paid jobs rarely provide a chance for a worker to utilize their best attributes.
Whatever the reason or reasons, the evidence suggests that people of color have lower job esteem than do people of other ethnicities. The economy may be improving and unemployment dropping, but many African-Americans still feel they’re not where they should be in terms of work.