Nearly half of U.S. workers surveyed in a recently released Rand Corporation report say they are exposed to unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions.

The 2015 American Working Conditions Survey (AWCS), which collected detailed information on a broad range of working conditions in the American workplace, also found that negative conditions go beyond the physical: nearly one in five American workers are exposed to a hostile or threatening social environment at work. Many also are required to work at high speeds and under tight deadlines.

On the positive side: many workers enjoy some autonomy, receive social support on the job and feel that their jobs are “meaningful” most of the time.

Key findings of the survey:

  • Nearly three-fourths of Americans report either intense or repetitive physical exertion on the job at least one-quarter of the time.
  • The clear majority of Americans (eight out of ten) have steady and predictable work throughout the year, but many fewer work the same number of hours on a day-to-day basis (54 percent).
  • More than one-half of Americans report exposure to unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions.
  • Nearly one in five American workers are exposed to a hostile or threatening social environment at work.
  • Most Americans (two-thirds) frequently work at high speeds or under tight deadlines, and one in four perceives that they have too little time to do their job.
  • While a large proportion (62 percent) hold jobs whose tasks are typically monotonous, an overwhelming majority of American workers views "solving unforeseen problems" and "applying own ideas" as integral parts of their jobs (82 and 85 percent, respectively). Similar percentages say that their jobs involve complex tasks (70 percent) and learning new things (84 percent).
  • More than one-half (58 percent) of American workers describe their boss as supportive, and 56 percent say that they have very good friends at work.
  • Only 38 percent of workers state that their job offers good prospects for advancement.
  • Four out of five American workers report that their job met at least one definition of "meaningful" always or most of the time.

About the survey

The AWCS was fielded in 2015 on the RAND American Life Panel, a nationally representative (when weighted) sample of individuals residing in the United States who have agreed to participate in regular online surveys. This report presents detailed findings about the prevalence and distribution of working conditions across the American workforce by age, gender, and education.