Americans are least satisfied with pay, retirement plan, health benefits, Gallup poll shows

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 (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY, file)

(Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY, file)

NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller sits down for his weekly conversation with Gallup’s Frank Newport to talk about trends in U.S. opinion.

We’re considering current attitudes about work and workers on this Labor Day weekend.

We watched the Massachusetts winner of the $700 million+ lottery last week say that the first thing she did was call her boss and say she was not coming back to work. But Gallup data over the years has shown that a majority of workers say they would continue to win if they won $10 million dollars in the lottery.

Does this mean that workers in general like their jobs? It seems to.

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We have just updated worker satisfaction data and find that only 7 percent of workers are dissatisfied with their jobs while 52 percent are completely satisfied, one of the highest marks on that measure over the past 18 years. In 1999, during the boom, only 39 percent were completely satisfied.

Workers tend to be most satisfied with the physical safety of their job, and with their relations with co-workers. Perhaps not surprisingly, workers are least satisfied with the tangible aspects of their jobs — things like their pay, their retirement plan and their health benefits.

Interestingly, we hear a lot about millennials constantly switching from job to job, but young workers are actually more satisfied with most aspects of their job than those who are older.

Labor Day is a good time to take a look at unions. Gallup first asked Americans about unions way back in 1936 — one of the longest-standing trends in Gallup history. 72 percent approved of unions then; 61 percent approve of unions today. There have been some ups and downs during that time period. But almost always a majority of Americans approve.

Unions are one mechanism often cited as a way to reduce income inequality in the U.S. And that seems fine with Americans. Most Americans either want unions to have the same amount of influence that they do today, or more influence.

Most Americans also favor an increased minimum wage and an increase in taxes on the very rich.

About 16 percent of all adults are in a “union family” — and about 10 percent are themselves members of unions. The high point for unions was in the early 50s.

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