A U.S. economy that’s been running red-hot for the past two years has helped prop up a robust jobs market that has, so far, resisted an effort by the Federal Reserve to cool down consumer spending, wage growth and hiring through a series of interest rate hikes going back to March of last year.

One byproduct of a jobs sector that’s featured ultra-low unemployment and high wage growth is a power shift from employer to employee thanks to an economic environment in which unfilled job openings far outnumber available workers to fill them. Employees unhappy with work tasks, wages or their work environments have had plenty of greener pastures to pursue and have done just that, driving the so-called Great Resignation, a wave of job switching that’s only recently showed signs of slowing down

And, a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll finds it’s a perfect set of circumstances to drive top marks when it comes to how working Utahns feel about what they do to earn a living.

Some 90% of poll participants said they are satisfied with their current jobs, with 52% weighing-in as very satisfied. Ten percent of respondents said they were somewhat unsatisfied with their jobs and 1% aren’t happy at all with their work lives, ranking their feelings as very unsatisfied.

So, what exactly is happening at work that’s leaving an overwhelming majority of working Utahns so stoked about their daily grinds?

Turns out it’s the people they work with. When asked to choose from a list of job-related characteristics they’re most satisfied with, relationships with co-workers easily outpaced all other items with 37% of respondents ranking those connections as their top choice. But working Utahns are a little more divided when it comes to their next biggest source of job satisfaction. Daily tasks, employer-provided benefits and salary/wages each earned top rankings from 14% of poll participants when it comes to what’s keeping them happy at work. And, relationships with supervisors rounded out the top five sources of job satisfaction, with 10% of respondents identifying that workplace item as their top choice.

The statewide survey was conducted June 26-July 4 with 801 registered Utah voters by Dan Jones & Associates. The results come with an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.46%. Data gathered from those who identified themselves as currently working has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.02%.

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Poll participants’ positive takeaways from their jobs also seemed to extend into how they view the long-term prospects for their current positions. When asked to rate their concerns about being laid off in the next six months, 71% said they were not at all concerned, 12% said they were somewhat unconcerned and 17% said they were somewhat or very concerned.

Ben Crabb, regional economist for Utah’s Department of Workforce Services, said the high job satisfaction rates unveiled in the new Deseret News polling comes as no surprise as the strong labor market has empowered workers to seek out their own best-case scenarios with options aplenty to pursue new employment opportunities.

“That 90% number is extraordinary but it’s been a very tight labor market over the past two years and is a sellers’ market,” Crabb said. “There’s been opportunity for workers to take new jobs at a higher rate of pay and find the working conditions they’re after.”

Crabb also noted poll participants’ high ranking of workplace relationships as a source of job satisfaction reflects the reality that what people do for work “is not just about income but a social aspect” in their lives.

While most poll participants registered good vibes about their work gigs, some workers aren’t feeling as much love as they could for their employment situations and salary and wages are the biggest issue for the 25% of respondents who ranked compensation as their biggest source of job dissatisfaction. Close behind was employer-provided benefits at 21% and lack of promotion opportunities at 20%. Daily tasks and supervisor relationships rounded out the top five for least satisfactory work items coming in at 12% and 8%, respectively.

Poll participant Justin Kade Monroe finds himself among the minority of poll participants who registered overall dissatisfaction with their jobs and shared a variety of issues he’s found as a package handler and truck driver at one of online giant Amazon’s Salt Lake City facilities.

Monroe, 28, said he’s worn out with the long commute from his home in West Point but it’s what is happening at work that has motivated him to look for other employment options.

“It’s a very strenuous job,” Monroe said. “We get a lot of heavy packages and there’s a lot of lifting. It’s physically draining and leadership, at times, just doesn’t seem to care.”

Monroe said he has colleagues who have suffered work injuries but are afraid to report the problems to supervisors because they’re worried about getting in trouble. He also shared frustrations about an inconsistent work schedule that sometimes results in being sent home early but, on other days, means working extra hours.

While Monroe said he is unhappy with some of the conditions at his job, he also celebrated the camaraderie he and his fellow workers share.

“We’re always looking out for each other,” Monroe said. “We can all tell who is having a rough day and we all care for each other and work together like a family.”

Compared to recent national polling, the job satisfaction rates among Utah workers appears to be tracking significantly higher than the rest of the country.

Results from a national survey conducted by The Conference Board and published in May found 62.3% of American workers said they were satisfied with their jobs. That 2022 rate, according to Conference Board analysts, was up from 2021’s 60.2% satisfaction rate and the highest level since the annual survey effort was first launched in 1987. The research has found that job satisfaction levels have been rising steadily for over a decade after hitting an all-time low of 42.6% in 2010 following the Great Recession.

“With unemployment at record lows, it’s a sellers’ market for labor — U.S. workers are reaping the rewards,” Eren Selcuk, senior economist at The Conference Board, said in a press statement following the report’s release last spring. “Job satisfaction was up across the board in 2022 — and especially high for workers who switched jobs.

“While a mild recession in 2023 is likely to ease labor shortages and reduce labor mobility, the impact on job satisfaction may be brief and minor. Demographic trends suggest tight labor markets are here to stay, putting the onus on employers to compete for talent.”