Globally, Men, White-Collar Workers Upbeat on Job Market

Globally, Men, White-Collar Workers Upbeat on Job Market

by Melanie Standish and Gale Muller

Women, blue-collar workers, and less educated are more negative

This article is the third and final in a series exploring worldwide perceptions of pre- and post-recession local job availability.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While most of the world was pessimistic about local job market conditions in 2011, white-collar workers, men, and those with at least a secondary education were somewhat more hopeful than their blue-collar, female, and less educated counterparts. The gap in optimism was most evident between white-collar (38%) -- defined as professional workers in fields such as business or education -- and blue-collar workers (33%) -- defined as workers in fields such as manufacturing or the service industry. Employment could encompass full- or part-time work or self-employment.

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While Gallup surveys conducted in 146 countries and areas in 2011 show men and women globally were more pessimistic than optimistic about their job prospects, men were slightly more optimistic than women in every region.

The gender gaps were largest in Europe and the former Soviet Union, where women were the most pessimistic in the world. This may reflect the larger gender differences that exist on this question in high GDP countries. In Europe, women are also more likely to work in employment fields where the demand for jobs far exceeds the supply.


White-Collar Workers Are Most Positive About Jobs

With the exception of the Americas, white-collar workers in every region were more confident about the local job market than their blue-collar counterparts.

The gap was largest in Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, where the difference in positivity between white-collar workers and blue-collar workers was eight percentage points, likely reflecting long-term growth in jobs requiring advanced skills. Blue-collar workers were most positive in Latin and South America, reflecting economies that more heavily rely on export commodities such as mining and agriculture, as well as manufacturing.

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Education Premium Boosts Positive Global Job Perceptions

Workers worldwide -- with the exception of workers in the Americas -- with secondary and post-secondary education were more likely than those with elementary education or less to say it is a good time to find a job in the local city or area where they live.

Europe had the largest gap in positivity between those with an elementary education or less (10%) and those with post-secondary education or more (24%), likely reflecting their advanced economies where more jobs require higher levels of education. The education premium was also pronounced in the former Soviet Union, with a nine-point gap in positivity between those with elementary education or less (18%) and those with post-secondary education or more (27%).

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The Americas was the only region where workers who completed no more than elementary school or high school were more positive about their job prospects (39%). This again is likely the result of economies, particularly in Latin and South America, that are more dependent on natural resources and agricultural exports and are thus less likely to require higher education skills.


The global recession continued to affect many economies throughout the world in 2011. However, the economic downturn has not always influenced global residents' perceptions of their ability to find a job in their local city or area. Women have historically been less positive than men about the local job market, and those with more education are more likely to find sustainable employment than those with less. With the exception of Latin America, white-collar workers have fared better worldwide than blue-collar workers.

In 2011, residents in the Americas -- except in the U.S. -- have generally remained more positive about the job market because of lower unemployment, economies driven by a growing middle class, natural resource exports, minerals and commodities, and less integration of their financial sectors with those of the recession-hit U.S. and Europe.

Despite generally more positive perceptions in selected regions and countries, world residents have historically struggled to be more positive than negative when it comes to local job prospects. Economic uncertainty and rigid policies, systemic unemployment, political unrest, and corruption contribute to negative perceptions. However, these negative perceptions might also be an indicator of something positive -- that global residents are not satisfied with the status quo and continue to strive to make better lives for themselves and their families through good jobs.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact us.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults per country, aged 15 and older, conducted in 146 countries and areas in 2011. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranged from a low of ±3.5 percentage points to a high of ±4 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

The following is a list of Gallup job categories for white-collar and blue-collar workers:

White Collar

  • Professional worker -- lawyer, doctor, scientist, teacher, engineer, nurse, accountant, computer programmer, architect, investment banker, stock broker, marketing, musician, artist
  • Manager, executive, or official -- in a business, government agency, or other organization
  • Business owner -- such as a store, factory, plumbing contractor, etc. (self-employed)
  • Clerical or office worker -- in business, government agency, or other type of organization -- such as a typist, secretary, postal clerk, telephone operator, computer operator, data entry, bank clerk
  • Sales worker -- clerk in a store, door-to-door salesperson, sales associate, manufacturer's representative, outside sales person

Blue Collar

  • Service worker -- policeman/woman, fireman, waiter or waitress, maid, nurse's aide, attendant, barber or beautician, fast-food, landscaping, janitorial, personal care worker
  • Construction or mining worker -- construction manager, plumber, carpenter, electrician, other construction trades, miner, or other extraction worker
  • Manufacturing or production worker -- operates a machine in a factory, is an assembly line worker in a factory, includes non-restaurant food preparation (baker), printer, print shop worker, garment, furniture, and all other manufacturing
  • Transportation worker -- drives a truck, taxi cab, bus etc., works with or on aircraft (including pilots and flight attendants), trains, boats, teamster, longshoreman, delivery company worker or driver, moving company worker
  • Installation or repair worker -- garage mechanic, linesman, other installation, maintenance or repair worker
  • Farming, fishing or forestry worker -- farmer, farm worker, aquaculture or hatchery worker, fisherman, deck hand on fishing boat, lumberjack, forest management worker
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