Ask Americans what they like most about their jobs, and more will say ``the people I work with'' or ``the work itself'' than ``the money I earn.'' According to a nationwide telephone poll conducted by the Media General-Associated Press, a 91 percent majority of workers said they liked their jobs, and 63 percent said they were paid fairly. About three in 10 said they deserved more money, while 7 percent said they were overpaid. The poll indicates that a majority of Americans think their wages are fair.
While nearly three-quarters of the white workers said they were paid a fair wage, only 44 percent of black workers thought their salaries fair. Fifty-one percent of blacks said they were paid less than they deserved.
Among those who liked their jobs, one-third said it was the actual work they liked best. About one-quarter said their co-workers were the most pleasant thing about their jobs, and 12 percent said it was the money. The remainder cited other reasons.
Among those who disliked their work, 42 percent wanted more money, 21 percent wanted a greater chance for advancement, and 15 percent wanted a better boss.
White-collar workers were more likely than blue-collar workers to like their jobs, although vast majorities of both groups said that they were happy. Those who made more money were more likely to say that they liked their jobs than those who made less, but again, majorities of all income groups said that they were happy with their work.
White-collar workers, however, were less likely than blue-collar workers to say they were paid a fair wage. And young workers were less likely to be happy with their pay than older workers.
Among those who were paid less than $20,000 a year, about half said they were paid a fair wage while slightly less than half said they were not paid enough. Three-quarters of those who made more than $20,000 a year said they were paid a fair wage.
Respondents in the Media General-Associated Press poll included a random, scientific sampling of 1,464 adults across the country on Sept. 8 through 17. As with all sample surveys, the results of Media General-AP telephone polls can vary from the opinions of all Americans because of chance variation in the sample.
For a poll based on about 1,400 interviews, the results are subject to an error margin of 3 percentage points either way. In other words, there is only one chance in 20 that the findings would vary by more than 3 percentage points from the results of polls such as this one.