The Future of Work: by FRED YANG, Hart Research

On behalf of Accelerator for America, Hart Research conducted two major pieces of survey research. First, we conducted a Nationally representative online survey among 1,000 registered voters, conducted May 18 to 23, 2018. In addition, we conducted a “qualboard”, that is an online discussion board among a cross section of 27 American workers age 18 to 45, conducted June 4 to 6, 2018.

Here are some of the key findings from our research:

  1. Despite public polls showing that voters’ views of the current economy have improved markedly, we find that a significant portion of voters are uneasy or ambivalent about the ways jobs and workplaces are changing, and many have doubts when it comes to the availability of quality jobs looking into the future
  2. The absolute core part of what constitutes a “good” job is that it provides a decent, livable wage, but other financial benefits (especially healthcare and retirement savings) are highly important to voters as well. Besides fulfilling these basic monetary concerns, voters tell us the most important aspects of having a job are achieving a sense of dignity and purpose; doing something you genuinely enjoy; and having the freedom to balance work and life
  3. There is a strong disconnect, across socioeconomic lines, between what Americans want to see happen and what they believe actually will happen when it comes to the future of work. It is evident that many Americans today have ingrained beliefs about jobs and workplaces, and are struggling to reconcile those with what they perceive are fast-growing trends. For example, 62% would prefer to stick with a single employer for the majority of their career, but 71% believe more people will work for multiple employers. And two-thirds think there will be fewer and fewer companies as more consolidate, but 76% would prefer that large corporations are broken up so “mom and pop” shops can thrive
  4. Automation and technological advancement present a clear source of anxiety for voters, and—although they see the value in goods and services being produced quickly, cheaply, and with less room for error—many express real concerns about the threat these forces pose to human jobs. By a wide margin, they are more afraid of losing their jobs to computers and AI than losing them to foreign competition.
  5. Voters’ number-one priority is to provide Americans with the proper preparation—whether that be college, or something else entirely—in order to help them keep up and succeed in this rapidly changing workforce. Skills re-training and vocational education are highly appealing to voters, both on a personal level and for the country as a whole. In our qualitative research, voters were also drawn to the phrase “continual learning,” because it connotes the notion that workers should always be learning and growing in order to stay current and excel in their evolving fields. (“Skills re-training” was much less popular among our online panel, who felt it sounded like punishment or implied that the training was inadequate the first time.)

 

Mr. Yang is a partner with the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group. Mr. Yang has achieved a reputation as a pollster. Current and former clients of Mr. Yang include former Sen. Mikulski (D-MD), Sen. Van Hollen (D-MD), former Rep. Waxman (D-CA) and Washington, D.C.'s mayor Muriel Bowser. Mr. Yang also collaborates with Republican pollster Bill McInturff on the famous monthly NBC News/Wall Street Journal national survey. Mr. Yang graduated from Stanford University.