The Marketplace-Edison Research Economic poll asked respondents what attributes were important for a job to be considered a “good job.” The top selection among the choices offered was that the job provide health benefits — picked as “essential” by 73 percent of respondents. Next in line was “provide a good working environment,” followed by “provide opportunities for advancement,” and “make you feel valued.”
At the bottom of the list: “offer a salary rather than an hourly wage” (31 percent) and “provide flexible work hours” (40 percent).
Sarah Heidler is 48 years old, and has worked at Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Ore., as a mechanic and service advisor since mid-2015.
“This is a fantastic job,” Heidler said, “because of the benefits, and the owners actually care about people and invest in people.”
Heidler has raised two children — the youngest is still in high school — and has had her share of bad jobs, including “assistant manager at a convenience store — working 45 to 50 hours per week and still eligible for food stamps.”
Fellow mechanic Jeremy Smith said a “good job” pays the bills and provides a path for advancement.
“For me it’s training, because I’m trying to grow, I’m trying to get better,” Smith said. “And it’s paid for, it’s part of the deal” for employees at the auto shop.
For many American workers, decent pay and health benefits are just a starting point for a “good job.”
Victoria Edwards is 32 years old and lives in New York City. She works part time as a tutor for a developmentally challenged adult, and is pursuing a graduate degree in journalism at the City University of New York.
“You need to have your basic needs met in order to focus on your job,”Edwards said. “And if you don’t have health insurance, if you’re not able to have your basic needs met, I don’t think you can give your 100 percent in any job.”
The next-most important thing for Edwards is a good relationship with, and support from, her employer.
“I want to know the guidelines, I want it to be structured,” Edwards said. “I want good communication so I know where I am every step of the way.”