Research Report
Research Report

Not Just a Job: New Evidence on the Quality of Work in the United States

October 23, 2019
Download the full report Not Just a Job: New Evidence on the Quality of Work in the United States. 

The current economic expansion is now the longest in US history, but not all Americans are feeling the benefits. Wage stagnation and shifting labor market needs have many US workers stuck in low-paying jobs. And labor force participation, even among prime-age adults, is below levels achieved decades ago. 

Remarkably, there is no widely recognized, comprehensive measure of job quality in the US. Omidyar Network partnered with Gallup, Lumina Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create the first-ever Great Jobs Survey, aiming to address this deficit.

This research asks more than 6,600 US workers about the factors that matter most for overall job quality, and how their jobs stack up on those characteristics. The resulting measure includes not just common considerations such as income and employment benefits, but also career advancement opportunities, autonomy, and control over their working lives, job security, and other attributes important to workers. 

Key findings included:

  • Less than half of US workers are in good jobs. 40 percent of employed Americans are in good jobs, 44 percent are in mediocre jobs and 16 percent are in bad jobs.
  • Income inequality translates into inequality in job quality across every dimension. Just 28 percent of those in the bottom one-fifth of incomes are in good jobs.
  • Few workers want their employment situation to be "just a job."
  • Race, ethnicity, and gender are strongly correlated with job quality. Black women and Asian workers express low job quality overall.
  • Most workers say their level of pay has improved in recent years, but that other dimensions of job quality have not. No more than 37 percent of workers say any aspect of job quality unrelated to pay has improved during the last five years.

To learn more, download the full report here.