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Published: Mar 31, 2023 3 min read
Employees working in an office
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More than half of workers are satisfied with their jobs, but there’s a big divide based on age: The gist is that older employees say they’re much happier at work than younger ones.

Two thirds of people 65 and older are highly satisfied with their jobs, but the share is only 44% for workers ages 18 to 29, a new Pew Research Center survey found.

In general, workers have positive things to say about many aspects of their jobs, like their relationships with their coworkers and managers, but they’re much less satisfied with their professional development opportunities and their pay, according to Pew.

What the research says

Older employees are much more likely to have positive assessments about many key details of their jobs, including their workplace relationships, job responsibilities and opportunity to move up with their company.

Beyond the oldest and youngest age groups, the survey shows that workplace happiness is generally higher the older an employee is: 55% of workers ages 50 to 64 are highly satisfied with their jobs, and the figure is 51% both for all workers and those ages 30 to 49.

It's worth noting that, for the most part, older and more experienced workers receive higher pay and have more responsibilities on the job than their younger counterparts. So it makes sense that they're more satisfied at work.

Unsurprisingly, higher-income employees reported more positive views of their pay, benefits and upward opportunity in the survey. They were also more satisfied overall at work than lower- and middle-income workers.

The study also examined differences in job satisfaction along other demographic breakdowns:

  • Education levels appear to be correlated with how likely it is that a worker finds their job fulfilling. Among people with a postgraduate degree, 56% say their job is fulfilling all or most of the time, compared to 47% of workers with a bachelor's degrees and 44% of people who don't have a college degree.
  • The study found that more than two thirds of workers say their job is overwhelming, with higher shares of women reporting that overwhelmed at work.
  • "For the most part, satisfaction with various aspects of work don’t vary widely by race and ethnicity," the researchers said, but there are few exceptions, like white workers reporting greater satisfaction with their pay.

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