Monday, September 03, 2007

American Productivity and Job Satisfaction 

Today is Labor Day, a day set aside to recognize the contributions by all working Americans. Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

How do American compare to their counterparts around the world? Bradley S. Klapper of the Associated Press (AP), reports in the Washington Post that Americans get more done per hour than everyone but the Norwegians (source U.N. report). Americans work an average of 1,804 hours a year (2006). This amount is less than the Europeans but almost 400 hours more than the average Asian. Yet Americans produce more. Why? Our increased productivity "has to do with the ICT (information and communication technologies) revolution, with the way the US organizes companies, and the high level of competition in the country," said Jose Manuel Salazar, the International Labor Organization's head of employment.

Well, you might ask, are American workers satisfied with their jobs? The MSM would have us believe we are not. However, facts counter that meme.

An amazingly high percentage of Americans like their jobs. Data by the General Social Survey (GSS - 2002) discovered that 89% of us are very or somewhat satisfied with our jobs; 11%, not so satisfied. Maybe these statistics are different among "good" job holders and "bad" job holders? Or maybe between those with low incomes and little education. Not so - 9/10 are satisfied regardless of income, degrees, etc. 87% of "working class" people are satisfied.

If "working class" people could go to the beach instead of working, would they be happier? Again, the answer is "no" - most, along with others would keep working.

Most of us are functioning pretty well by working and are satisfied with our work. This attitude may also be a key reason Americans score better than Europeans on happiness surveys. In turn, this attitude towards work contributes to our productivity.