Worker Voices Special Brief: Perspectives on Job Quality takes a deep dive into a major theme that emerged during focus groups conducted in 2022 with 167 workers and job seekers without a four-year degree — what workers said they want and expect from a job. Led by the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Philadelphia, the Federal Reserve’s Worker Voices Project looked beyond the numbers to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on how workers without a four-year degree perceive and navigate employment.

Participants’ descriptions of what they want in a job stand in stark contrast to what they experienced during the pandemic. However, the elements of a quality job that participants identified transcend pandemic-era labor market experiences. Beyond fair compensation, workers want jobs where they are treated well, have job security, and are given flexibility to balance their work and personal lives. They’d also like to enjoy their work and have a manageable workload.

Learning about the first-hand experiences of everyday workers and job seekers adds depth and breadth to our understanding of economic conditions and labor market dynamics. A greater understanding of what constitutes a quality job can not only help improve worker well-being but also lead to a stronger bottom line for employers by reducing the costs associated with job vacancies and high turnover rates.

Read the report on the Fed Communities website.