Work is probably the focus of more interviews than any other topic--at least if one counts the 50,000 plus monthly interviews used to determine the federal unemployment level and other workforce statistics ( Bregger, 1984). In addition, occupation is a standard demographic item included in countless surveys on other topics. The time series in this chapter are therefore but a narrow, though significant, slice of the overall material on occupations. In one way or other, most of the items touch on job satisfaction.
The first item (Table 12.1) asks very directly whether respondents are satisfied with their job. If there is any trend toward dissatisfaction in an overall sense, it is not apparent in these figures. The same result, based on a slightly different but equally long time series, is reported elsewhere ( Tausky, 1984, p. 97; see also Chelte, Wright, and Tausky, 1982).
It is widely recognized, however, that global questions fail to capture the complex feelings that individuals have about their work ( Hall, 1986, pp. 90-91; Rothman, 1987, p. 233), and some other studies show declining satisfaction (e.g., Glenn and Weaver, 1982). Indeed, insofar as one's financial situation is tied closely to one's work, the second item (Table 12.2) suggests a somewhat different interpretation of jobs and rewards in the 1970s and 1980s. When compared with the 1960s, satisfaction with one's financial situation has declined ten to fifteen percentage points, with most of the change occurring by the late 1960s or early 1970s. Ironically, over the same thirty-year period, there is no change in the percentages saying that their financial situations worsened (12.3), and the numbers considering themselves to have above and below average incomes remained steady (12.4).
A major consideration in research on job satisfaction is the matter of worker or occupational characteristics that lead