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Workers' on-job happiness declines

Survey indicates satisfaction down from decade ago

NEW YORK -- US workers, pushed to produce more and uneasy about new technology and other changes, are markedly less satisfied with their jobs than a decade ago, a survey says.

But the decline in on-the-job happiness, which continued through economic cycles in recent years, has at least temporarily leveled off, according to the survey released yesterday by the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group.

Half of US workers are happy with their jobs, down from nearly 59 percent in 1995, according to the survey. Of those, about 14 percent say they are very satisfied, on par with the group's last survey in 2003 and down from 18.4 percent in 1995.

The number of those satisfied is slightly higher than in a similar survey done in 2003, when 48.9 percent of workers said they were content with their jobs.

Compared to a decade ago, job satisfaction has declined among all workers, but the drop varies by age and income. The biggest decline in on-the-job happiness was among workers earning $25,000 to $35,000 and among workers between the ages of 35 to 44.

The workers most satisfied with their jobs are those earning $50,000 or more and workers at least 65 years old, the survey found.

The long-term drop in job satisfaction has been driven by rapid changes in technology, employers' push for productivity, and shifting expectations among workers, said Lynn Franco, director of the group's Consumer Research Center.

''As large numbers of baby boomers prepare to leave the workforce, they will be increasingly replaced by younger workers, who tend to be as dissatisfied with their jobs but have different attitudes and expectations about the role of work in their lives," Franco said. ''This transition will present a new challenge for employers."

The survey, conducted for the Conference Board by market research firm TNS, is based on a representative sample of 5,000 households surveyed in July.

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