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Experiences with Work

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This national survey among adults ages 35-64 was conducted to better understand adults' experiences with work, particularly when it comes to searching for jobs.

Specifically, respondents were asked about:

  • Their satisfaction with aspects of their current job.

  • Tools they have used in a recent job search.

  • How likely they are to be looking for a new job in 2017.

  • Reasons they might consider looking for another job.

  • Obstacles they anticipate when looking for a new job.

Key findings include:

  • Almost six-in-ten respondents ages 35-64 are currently employed (58%) while the remainder are unemployed and looking for a job or not currently in the labor force.

  • Over four-in-ten (43%) of those ages 35-64 anticipate looking for a job in 2017.

  • Among those respondents who are currently working, almost two-thirds (63%) have been in their job for five or more years.  Many report being satisfied with multiple aspects of their job, but less than half are satisfied with their salary (44%) or their opportunities to advance (43%). 

  • As seen last year, current and future job seekers are primarily after the same thing: more money. Furthermore, those likely to look for a new job in 2017 are less satisfied than those who intend to stay in their current job in terms of finding fulfillment in their work, the level of challenge, the relationship with their boss, and the recognition/reward for their work effort.

  • Finding a new job may be quick for most, but not for others. Almost a quarter (23%) took six months or longer to find their current job. 

  • Among recent hires and current job seekers, online job listing sites are the most commonly used job search tool (68%). And, as with last year, online job listing sites are considered to be the most effective tool.  Using personal contacts/referrals also ranks highly as a common and effective means to find a new job.

  • Most future job seekers (63%) prefer a full-time position, but those who favor
    part-time like its flexible schedules, work-life balance, and supplemental income.

  • When asked to think about retirement, almost half (45%) of those currently employed express interest in working part-time once retired.

  • When assessing obstacles that stand in the way of finding a new job, four in ten cite fear of age discrimination. This figure rises to two-thirds (65%) among those ages 55-64.

In 2016, AARP Research contracted with Phi Power Communications, Inc. to conduct a survey among U.S. adults ages 35-64 to learn about their experiences with work. This survey mirrored a 2015 study with a few minor refinements. The 10-minute online, unbranded survey was in field from November 10 to November 14, 2016. The nationally-representative sample of 1,727 adults 35-64 was quota-matched to 2015 U.S. Census figures on age, gender, and race/ethnicity (nested); education, and region. The 2015 survey of 1,291 adults ages 35-64 was fielded November 8 to November 14, 2015. For more information contact Sarah Kerman at SKerman@aarp.org or Colette Thayer at CThayer@aarp.org.  

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