Most US jobs are too boring, recent study shows

The study investigates the match between people’s interests and available jobs in the current and projected U.S.

A woman circles job listings in the newspaper.

A new study published this month in the Journal of Business and Psychology found that the U.S. has a lot of jobs, but most of the working population find them boring. 

The study, which surveyed around 1.2 million people across the country, investigates the match between people’s interests and available jobs in the current and projected U.S. It revealed three major findings.

First, around two-thirds of people were most interested in “people-oriented” jobs, with the remaining one-third preferring “things-oriented” jobs. Second, the distribution of people’s interests did not align with U.S. job demands in 2014, 2019 and 2029 (projections), revealing large gaps between interest supply and demand. And lastly, interest gaps were generally larger at lower education levels, indicating that higher education can provide more opportunities to achieve interest fit at work.

“By necessity, there are going to be a number of people [who] have to work in jobs they don’t find interesting,” said Kevin Hoff, a professor at MSU and the lead researcher on the study. 

Hoff says the “boring jobs” tend to be those that involve working with your hands or machinery, like construction or manufacturing jobs. Others included jobs involving data and processing like accountants or auditors. 

The “exciting jobs” tend to be ones that include artistic, social, or enterprising interests. Examples of artistic interests would be an actor or writer. Social interests would be teacher or social worker, and enterprising examples included politics or sales.

So what contributed to these perceptions?

“It’s probably how jobs are introduced to young people and probably the stereotypes we have around trades especially,” Hoff said.

However, Hoff said there is still going to be a need for skilled trade jobs regardless.

“We need to continue to make sure that there is a pipeline of interested young people to fill them.” 

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  • Bre'Anna Tinsley
    Bre'Anna Tinsley is a reporter for Detroit Public Radio, 101.9 WDET. She covers city government and housing, as well as co-hosting the "Detroit Evening Report" podcast.