Where the world’s good (and great) jobs are


Disappointed by the state of the U.S. job market? Well, take heart.

A handful of countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar or Bahrain, are home to more “good” jobs, but, according to a major new Gallup survey of nearly a half-million adults around the world, the United States job market has a larger share of “great” jobs than all but one other country. It is second to only Panama and is tied with Uzbekistan and Russia.

But what makes a job “good” or “great?” Gallup’s definition is simple. A good job is one that includes at least 30 hours of consistent weekly work and a paycheck from an employer — in other words, a full-time job. Based on that definition, an estimated 1.3 billion of the world’s 5 billion adults have good jobs, according to Gallup.

But having a job is one thing. Enjoying it is another altogether. Based on a series of additional questions, Gallup found that 14 percent of the adults with good jobs also felt engaged at work. Those full-time workers who also enjoyed what they do are the ones with great jobs, according to Gallup.

“The dream of men and women around the world is to have a good job and, ultimately, a great job,” Gallup Global Analytics Managing Director Jon Clifton writes in the report. “Yet fewer than 200 million people are realizing this dream. Global leaders need to make ‘great job’ creation a top priority.”

But first, those leaders have to understand where their country lies on the spectrum.

A wide range of people report having a good full-time job, from as low as 7 percent of adults in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso to as many as 63 percent of adults in the UAE — which, Gallup points out, is home to a large population of expatriates who live there just to work. Great jobs, a subset of the good ones, are held by as little as 1 percent of adults in 11 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, and as many as 13 percent of adults in Panama.

Globally, the share of adults in a country who hold great jobs rarely surpasses 10 percent. In fact, only six of 130 countries are at or above that threshold. They are Panama, the United States, Russia, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and Chile.

Such high-quality work appears to be linked to living a good life, too.

“People’s careers help shape their identity and well-being, so it makes sense that Gallup’s global surveys reveal that people with a ‘good job’ tend to rate their present and future lives more positively than those who don’t have a good job,” Gallup reports.

Gallup classified each individual as “thriving,” “struggling” or “suffering,” based on how they responded to a commonly used life-evaluation measure, the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale.

In every major region of the world, those with good jobs are more likely to fall into the thriving category than the overall population. People who hold great jobs consistently beat both those who have good jobs and the population overall.

“The wide deficits between ‘good, but not great, jobs’ and ‘great jobs’ in every country mean there are vast numbers of employees who are emotionally disconnected from their workplace and are less likely to be productive — even if they have ‘good jobs,'” Gallup reports. “These deficits represent potential barriers to job growth and economic and personal prosperity.”

The Gallup data is based on more than 470,000 surveys conducted from 2013 to 2015 around the world. Good and great jobs data were reported for 130 countries, though surveys were conducted elsewhere, too.

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