How satisfied are people with their jobs?

The youth survey released this week found that 84% of full-time workers and 78% of part-time workers aged 18 to 24 were satisfied with their jobs. 41% said that they were very satisfied (though unfortunately there was no option just to be ‘satisfied’, just ‘very satisfied’ or ‘somewhat satisfied’). How does this compare with workers in general?

Surveys have consistently found high levels of work satisfaction. In the Changing Australian survey of 1983, 49% of respondents said that they were very satisfied with their work and a further 38% were moderately satisfied, with 86% satisfied overall. 14% were a little or very dissatisfied. The National Social Science Survey of 1987-88 asked respondents to rate their work satisfaction on a 1 to 10 scale. If we class 6 or more as moderately satisfied or above then 85% were satisfied, almost exactly the same as the 1983 survey. If 1 to 4 are ‘dissatisfied’ then 9% fell into that category, but if we count those circling ‘5’ as a little dissatisfied again we can get a near exact match with 1983.

In a Saulwick Poll conducted before the 2001 election, 86% were satisfied – again, a very similar number to the other surveys. They separately identified casuals, 21% of whom were dissatisfied compared to 13% of the sample overall. This is quite similar to the division the Newspoll youth survey finds, though whether the problem is the casual work status or the nature of the employment is not clear (many casuals are students, who may find the low-level service jobs they do while studying unstimulating compared to the studies and low-status compared to their aspirations).
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