The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) asked participants to judge the well-being generated by a job. Using a six-point scale, they rated industries on the basis of qualities that included meaningfulness, happiness, stress, and pain.
The results could help us decide where we want to work.
While ATUS is primarily about how we use our time, starting in 2010, they added more subjective questions. Not limited to jobs, they asked how we felt about activities that ranged from religion to sports and even telephone calls.
For their jobs ranks, industries were rated on a 0 (low) to 6 (high) scale.
These were the top five:
In their article on the ATUS job ranks, The Washington Post listed the following as the bottom five:
Commenting on lumberjacks and farmers topping the list, The Washington Post hypothesized that being outdoors makes us feel good. In the article, they even told us that looking at a tree through a window when you are sick could help you recover faster. (I wonder??)
Meanwhile, ranked with the same three criteria, religion was #1 for its high happiness (5.1), high meaning (5.6), low stress (0.7). Sadly, education was near the bottom. Its numbers were happiness (3.6), meaning (4.2), stress (2.6)
Our Bottom Line: Job Happiness
ATUS started me thinking about happiness, stress, and meaning. I wondered if they really indicated the formula for the best job. After all, an Atlantic article reported that 30 percent of job satisfaction could be genetic. The article also told us that we need consistent wage hikes to keep us happy.
Instead, I’ve always liked what writer Daniel Pink said in Drive. Discussing motivation, he says that once we are sufficiently paid at work, we need autonomy (directing our own lives), mastery (desire to get better and better at a task), and purpose (“yearning to do what we do in a service larger than ourselves”). I would suggest that autonomy, mastery, and purpose provide the most job satisfaction and well-being. Your opinion?
My sources and more: The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) American Time Use Survey is always a handy resource. Among the countless articles that grabbed the results, The Washington Post had a good summary. From, there, looking for a different perspective, I found this Atlantic story. But most crucially, do return to our post on what composes “the good life.” It really depends on whether you want happiness or meaning or adventure.