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Published: Mar 21, 2022 4 min read
Young, frustrated woman working at a bar deals with customers
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Job satisfaction is at the lowest level ever recorded by the financial services firm MetLife.

On Monday, MetLife released its annual employee benefits report, noting that job satisfaction is at a 20-year low — with young workers feeling the brunt of the blow. The firm began releasing the survey in 2002, at a time when the country was reeling from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and gearing up for war with Iraq and Afghanistan. When it comes to mental and financial health, the new data suggests, employee morale is even worse in 2022.

Two years into the pandemic, 23- to 28-year-olds, referred to as “Zillennials” in the report, are experiencing the impacts of isolation and burnout most acutely. Of this age group, more than half say their unfulfilling job is a top source of stress. Women, people of color and manual laborers were also among the least satisfied with their jobs, MetLife found.

Of all workers, MetLife’s study shows 66% are satisfied with their jobs in 2022, down sharply from pre-pandemic 2019, when 74% of workers reported they were satisfied.

“It’s clear we’ve reached a critical inflection point in the workplace,” Todd Katz, an executive vice president at MetLife, said in a statement.

Employee demands amplified

Against the backdrop of a historically tight labor market, some workers are winning major concessions.

The struggle to attract and retain young workers is having an outsized impact on overall working conditions, sending employers into a scramble to offer better pay, retirement benefits and student loan assistance.

“Concerns about job security, prevalent early in the pandemic, have been replaced by a sense of empowerment,” the MetLife report states.

Still, the majority of young workers are struggling financially: 65% of Gen Z respondents (those born between 1997 and 2012) say their biggest financial concern this year is having enough money to buy housing, and only 48% say they feel “financially healthy” compared to 64% of all workers in MetLife’s survey.

Separate data released by the American Psychological Association (APA) this month suggests the impacts of inflation and the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia are further fueling America's "stunning" stress levels. According to the APA, 87% of Americans now say inflation is a significant stressor. Likewise, more than 80% of young adults polled by the APA cite money as a major source of stress.

“Americans have been doing their best to persevere over these past two tumultuous years,'' Arthur C. Evans Jr., the CEO of APA, said in a statement, “but these data suggest that we’re now reaching unprecedented levels of stress that will challenge our ability to cope.”

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