Report

Take this Job and Love It: Job Satisfaction Highest Among the Self-Employed

  • September 17, 2009
  • By Rich Morin

Frustrated with your job? You might consider working for yourself. Self-employed adults are significantly more satisfied with their jobs than other workers. They're also more likely to work because they want to and not because they need a paycheck.

But don't count on becoming financially secure if you become your own boss. Self-employed men and women have virtually identical family incomes as other workers but they feel more financial stress, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center Social & Demographics Trends project.

Still, they like their jobs. Nearly four-in-ten self-employed workers (39%) say they are "completely satisfied" with their jobs, compared with 28% of all wage or salaried employees. And only 5% of all workers who are their own bosses say they are dissatisfied with their employment situation, half the proportion of other workers who are dissatisfied.

About 11% of all working adults ages 16 and older are self-employed, according to data collected by the federal government's Current Population Survey. Their jobs vary widely, from small business owners and consultants to fishing guides and freelance writers. Included in the ranks of the self-employed are private contractors, artists, construction workers, day laborers, farmers and agricultural workers, as well as doctors, lawyers and accountants who practice alone.

Why do they work? Money is one reason – but it's far less of a factor for the self-employed than for other workers. Nearly a third of the self-employed (32%) say the main reason they work is because they want to, compared with 19% of wage and salary workers. By the same token, the self-employed are less likely than other workers to say they hold a job because they need the money (50% vs. 38%). They also place a higher value on the intangible psychological benefits of working such as feeling useful and productive, and are more likely to say they are working to help "improve society" (55% vs. 46%).

Read the full report Take this Job and Love It on the Pew Research Center Social & Demographics Trends project Web site.