Workers are Unhappy … Or Are They?
A Stock Pick for the Working World
In Case you Missed It
Much fuss was made this week after a report was released that showed U.S. job satisfaction at its lowest level in two decades. In a time when millions are out of work, you’d think people would be happy to have almost any jobs.
The Conference Board, a research firm funded by about 2,000 companies, commissioned the report, called “I Can’t Get No … Job Satisfaction, That Is.”
The Conference Board concluded that “Americans of all ages and income brackets continue to grow increasingly unhappy at work,” and this message was widely discussed and repeated.
The report was based on the answers of 2,900 respondents to a summer questionnaire about consumer confidence. Participants were also asked to rate how satisfied they are with their work on a scale of one to five, with five being the most satisfied.
Only 45% of the respondents marked either four or five, which is the lowest level since the board began asking people the question in 1987, when 61% of respondents expressed satisfaction.
When asked to name the most enjoyable parts of their jobs, the top answer from respondents was the commute. Not exactly a vote of confidence for their employers. (Enjoying the company of their co-workers was the respondents’ second best part of the workday.)
After the dust settled around this report, some people started questioning the vast discrepancies seen here compared with the findings of other job satisfaction studies.
Other polls that have measured job satisfaction in both good and bad times have found nearly nine out of 10 people are happy with the work they do.
Gallup has conducted a poll every August for the last 20 years that found 85% to 94% of respondents were either completely or somewhat satisfied with their jobs.
Some skeptics of the Conference Board’s report pointed to the fact that some of its earlier reports contained answers from people not chosen at random (although participants do encompass a wide range of ethnicities, ages and incomes) and the phrasing in the questions about topics like job satisfaction is open to interpretation.
Perhaps more people are dissatisfied by their jobs because the recession has forced to them to take employment below what they see as their proper level or in a different field than they would prefer.
Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams offered a different view: “When the economy was good, everybody was happier, no matter what their job was. The fact that you can’t change jobs in this economy makes you think your current job is worse.”
Whatever the reason, it’s disturbing to think that less than half of American workers are satisfied at work and that many enjoy their commute best of all.
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The Washington Post ran an interesting story this week that went beyond just the raw numbers of the job satisfaction report and delved into which workers are the most and least happy.
People in their 50s are generally the most satisfied by their jobs because they have found a field they excel in, have been promoted and been given a degree of independence in their work.
The Conference Board found that people under the age of 25 are the least satisfied with their jobs, likely because they are working for lower wages, possibly not in their first choice field and are having to cope with the “real world” for the first time.
Unsurprisingly, the people who are happiest are the ones in helping professions or those doing creative work. Firefighters, clergy and physical therapists are likely to have high job satisfaction, as are those in jobs that involve caring for, teaching and protecting others.
Customer service and the food service industry, jobs like bartending, clothing and home furnishing sales and meatpacking, ranked low on job satisfaction. Roofers were found to be the least happy, with only 25% saying they are satisfied with their work.
With one in 10 American workers unemployed, I’m curious to see whether these numbers change as the economy improves and companies start hiring more people again.
What do you think about the polls and the conflicting results? Reply to this email, comment on the article on our Web site at http://www.cabot.net or chat with me on Twitter by following me here http://twitter.com/IconoInvestor.
Somewhat related to the working world is my stock for today, Salesforce.com (CRM), which was featured in Cabot Top Ten Report on August 24. Here’s what Editor Michael Cintolo wrote about Salesforce.com then:
“Salesforce.com was founded a decade ago by a former Oracle executive, and today it’s a leading vendor of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services … which explains the stock’s symbol. But unlike Oracle, which sells software, Salesforce.com sells access to its network, which is where all the software is located; that’s cloud computing. Modules that customers can access include sales, service and support, partner relationship management, marketing, content, ideas and analytics. The business has been growing steadily over the past decade, though earnings trends have been irregular. And the market was thrilled last Friday when second quarter earnings came in ahead of analysts’ estimates. Most impressive from our point of view was the net addition of 3,900 customers in the quarter, an increase of 32% year-over-year, and the increase in cash to $1.0 billion, a sum that will likely come in handy for future investments. Recently, for example, the company announced an investment in the electronic medical records business, where we have no doubt it could provide good service. Salesforce.com is a company for our times, perhaps the Microsoft of the decade and beyond.
“CRM had advanced from 21 in October to 48 in August, and no one would have been surprised if the stock took a month to cool off and gather energy for its next advance. After all, this is a big, billion-dollar company. But last Friday’s earnings announcement killed all possibility of that. Trading volume on the day was 9.5 million shares, more than four times the average, and the stock closed near its high. As more institutions realize this is a story they can’t afford to miss, we expect the uptrend to continue.”
And the uptrend has continued, with the stock steadily climbing upward since it was featured in Cabot Top Ten Report. CRM is now hovering just below 75 and Mike still has it on the Cabot Top Ten Report Hold list.
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In case you didn’t get a chance to read all the issues of Cabot Wealth Advisory this week and want to catch up on any investing and stock tips you might have missed, I have links below to each issue.
Cabot Wealth Advisory 1/4/10 – The Big Questions
On Monday, Timothy Lutts wrote about life’s biggest questions and asked for your answers to them to possibly print in Cabot Wealth Advisory. Tim also discussed a stock in the business of making LEDs or light-emitting diodes. Featured stock: Cree Inc. (CREE).
Cabot Wealth Advisory 12/31/09 – Kicking Off the New Year
On Thursday, Michael Cintolo wrote about how the market actually works and discussed his top investing tips for the New Year. Mike also wrote about how January’s stock market performance may be a good indicator of the rest of the year. And Mike finished by writing about a stock he discovered using a trick of the trade. Featured stock: Southwestern Energy (SWN).
Until next time,
Editor of Cabot Wealth Advisory
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