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The Horror – Jobs That Make The World Worse

Topics: Data & Research

We all like to think our work has meaning. We all like to believe we’re contributing to society. Some of us might even say our jobs make the world a better place.

This report has nothing to do with those jobs.

Come with us, if you dare, as we focus on jobs at the dark and scary end of the spectrum; jobs that make the world worse … according to the people doing them.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

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Vampire Coming Out of Coffin

Between October 3, 2014 and October 3, 2016, we asked 467,883 U.S. workers to choose one of the following responses to the question, “Does your work make the world a better place?”:

  • Very much so
  • Yes
  • A little
  • No
  • My job may make the world a worse place

We then examined how their answer impacted aspects of their career including salary, job satisfaction, and the likelihood that they might be searching for a new employer. Look away if you don’t want to see the results!

Median Pay Tends To Increase With Higher Job Meaning

When asked if their job makes the world a better place, 54 percent of American workers reported high job meaning, with 38 percent responding “Yes” and 16 percent responding “Very much so.”

Interestingly, workers who responded “Yes” had the highest median pay, at $50,600, followed by those who said “Very much so”, at $49,700.

But we’re more interested in the one percent of American workers who feel that their work makes the world a worse place. The median pay for these workers is the lowest among all groups; scarily low, at $40,600.

Industries That Make The World Worse

Among industries, Tobacco Manufacturing has the highest percentage of workers who feel that their job makes the world a worse place, with 11.9 percent of workers in this industry reporting they feel this way. This is closely followed by workers in the Ammunition (except small arms) Manufacturing industry (10.9 percent) and the Pesticide and Agricultural Chemical Manufacturing industry (9.4 percent).

The tobacco industry has the highest percentage of workers who feel their job makes the world worse.Click To Tweet

Creepy Vampire

Other industries lurking in the darkness include Mortgage and Non-mortgage Loan Brokers (9.3 percent); Small Arms, Ordnance, and Ordnance Accessories Manufacturing (9.1 percent)—we’re sensing a trend here, as the number two industry on our list is also in the firearms industry—Beer, Wine and Liquor Stores (5.9 percent); and Drinking Places (5.3 percent.)

The Top Ten Industries That Make The World Worse

The Worst Job Titles

The specific job titles with highest percentage of workers who feel their job makes the world a worse place are fast food workers (10.1 percent); Associate Director, Creative Services (6.7 percent); and Online Marketing Data Analysts (6.3 percent).

Among the top 30 jobs with poor job meaning, Associate Director, Creative Services is the only one that has a monstrous six-figure median pay ($100,000). Only five other jobs on this list reported a median pay of at least $50,000: Lead Web Developer ($84,800), Demand Planner ($62,400), Real Estate Analyst ($59,400), E-Commerce Manager ($50,400), and Online Marketing Data Analyst ($50,100).

Old-School Werewolf

The Scariest News For Employers

Perhaps most terrifying for employers of workers who feel their job makes the world a worse place, a shocking 80 percent of these employees report that they intend to seek a new job with a different company in the next six months. The horror! (For the sake of comparison, only 39 percent of employees who strongly believe their job makes the world a better place are likely to be seeking a new job in the next six months.)

80% of workers who feel their job makes the world worse intend to seek a new job in the next 6 months.Click To Tweet

If you’re working in a job in which you feel you’re making the world worse, there’s still time to escape. Find your new job, and then use PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide to make sure you’re getting paid what you’re worth.

And if you’re an employer whose workers feel they’re making the world worse, there may be no silver bullet when it comes to employee retention, though reading our Compensation Best Practices Report is a good place to start.

Otherwise, your team might lurch out into the dark and stormy night, never to return.

Zombie in the fog

Tell Us What You Think

Are you working in a horrifying job? What is it that you do, and what makes you feel you’re making the world worse? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.


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You forgot ‘journalist’. How people in your profession peddle fear and dubious stories. Yet, still can look yourself in the mirror every morning.

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