To read some of the recent reports these days, you'd come to the conclusion that Americans are some unhappy folks. With the recession in full swing and unemployment over 10%, it's somewhat understandable. But a few nuggets of data from a couple of surveys hint at pervasive problems that appear to only be growing worse.
The first report is the job satisfaction survey. Apparently, American job satisfaction has fallen to an all-time low. This got me thinking: have I ever had a job I enjoyed? Or even one I was at least satisfied with? For me, the answer was no. I've had a few businesses I've enjoyed running, but I can't say I've enjoyed being an employee since I drove a forklift in a warehouse when I was 17 and didn't know any better. To take it a step further, I can say that I actually detested every finance job I ever had (yes, that includes banking). I worked with some fun guys occasionally, but the job itself always sucked.
Only 45% of Americans are currently satisfied with their work, and only 51% of workers find their work interesting. Only 43% feel secure in their jobs, which is no big shock considering the economy. And 51% said they're satisfied with their boss.
The other report to drop in the past couple days was the annual International Living Quality of Life Index. This index measures the quality of life around the world and ranks each country based on Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk, and Climate.
For the 5th year in a row, France was ranked the #1 country in the world for Quality of Life. Living here in Paris, I can't disagree. It is a great place to live, and even more so if you are not French and aren't forced to live in a squalid 120 sq ft studio apartment. The U.S. dropped to #7 on the list this year, down from #3 last year.
Before you go thinking that International Living is another lefty, let's-hate-America mouthpiece for the U.N., let me point out that the United States topped the list for 20 years (ever since the list was started), until it first dropped out of the #1 spot in 2004 or 2005 (I can't remember, I've subscribed a long time). At the time, it was a very big deal.
The U.S. took the biggest hit when it came to Cost of Living. Other problem areas were the Economy, Environment, Freedom, and Health. Where the U.S. shined was in Infrastructure (where else can you get eye drops at 3 in the morning?). On balance, the U.S. didn't do too bad. France scored an 82; the U.S. scored 78. Compare that to Somalia (at the bottom of the list) which came in with a solid 30. Here is the complete list of data.