Money Isn't Everything, American Workers Say

January 4, 2008 ( - Given a list of 15 benefits and characteristics that may be important in choosing a job, "how much one is paid, the total compensation" ranked 10th among American workers surveyed.

The health insurance plan offered with the job ranked at the top of the list, with 84% saying it is very important, according to the survey report. Job security and clarity in the rules at work ranked next (82% each), followed by the retirement or pension plan offered with the job (76%).

The fifth-ranked important job characteristic was working in a flexible, family-friendly workplace, chosen by 71% of respondents.

The survey found differences among demographic groups. Health insurance was ranked high by more women than men (89% v. 78%), as was a retirement plan (81% v. 72%). A family-friendly workplace also received more votes from women.

Eight of the characteristics ranked as more important by minority Americans than by white Americans and none were less important.

Having the potential for promotions is very important to Gen X workers (74% of those age 18-29), compared with Baby Boomers (58% of those age 42-61). Job security was also more important to the Gen X group (88%) than Boomers (79%), the report said.

The retirement plan at work ranked as very important to 84% of government employees, 72% of those in private business, and 73% of those who work for non-profits. In several key areas respondents said state and local jobs offer better options.

In terms of overall job benefits, a majority (58%) said state and local government is better; 23% see no difference, and 14% said private jobs are better. The numbers are almost exactly the same for job security, where 58% said state and local careers are better. Sixty-two percent of private-sector workers and 63% of government workers agreed that government jobs provide better benefits.

The telephone survey of 1,200 adults age 18 and older in the continental United States was conducted October 24, 2007 – November 4, 2007, by Princeton Survey Research AssociatesInternational for The Center for State and Local Government Excellence.

The survey report, Security: What Americans want from a job, is here .