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Why Americans hate their jobs
A majority of Americans now say they're unhappy at work. Is this a crisis—or have we become a nation of whiners?
 
A growing number of Americans are dissatisfied with their work.
A growing number of Americans are dissatisfied with their work.
Corbis

More and more Americans are miserable in their jobs. The Conference Board research group found that only 45 percent of people are satisfied at work, the lowest percentage since the survey started in 1987 (when the figure was 61 percent). The Conference Board's Linda Barrington says the results are "not about the business cycle or one grumpy generation," but rather point to "something troubling about work" in this country. What does it mean that most Americans now hate their jobs?

Pain can equal gain: Economists may be concerned about declining "innovation and productivity," says Douglas MacIntyre at 24/7 Wall Street, but the stats don't back it up. Worker productivity rose 8.1 percent in the third quarter of last year, "the strongest increase since 2003." In fact, output may be strengthened by unhappiness in the workplace. After all, "the sight of the gallows focuses the mind."
"Job Satisfaction May Not Matter"

We're bored—and that hurts the economy: The problem is most Americans don't find their jobs interesting, says Mark Craemer at the Seattle Post Intelligencer. If we can't "create new and better jobs" that "ignite" workers" and tap some "good old American ingenuity," the result won't just be unhappy workers—it will be "stifled innovation" and "lower productivity."
"Thoughts on Low Job Satisfaction"

More work equals less happiness: "Not everyone's buying" the Conference Board numbers, says the Corvallis, Ore., Gazette Times in an editorial. Other recent surveys suggest U.S. job satisfaction "has been remarkably stable over several decades," and is still quite high. But it certainly doesn't "doesn't take much of a stretch to imagine that" gains in worker productivity translate to lower levels of happiness—the "survivors of job cuts," after all, "have to pick up extra duties."
"Be leery of ‘grumpy workers’ report"

It's the economy, stupid: One thing's for sure, says Charles Payne at Seeking Alpha. "Widespread unhappiness" among workers is guaranteed as long as no one is hiring and everyone is stuck in their jobs. "Until people can sing 'take this job and shove it,'" the economy—and our sense of satisfaction—will be "mired in the doldrums."
"No satisfaction: What 2010 holds for the markets"

 

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