News desk | ILLINOIS

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A team of workforce experts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed a metric to measure the quality of jobs across the state of Illinois. The results are a mix of positive and negative news for Illinois workers.

Called “Illinois Job Quality,” the indicator was based on research comparing data collected from more than 3,500 Illinois workers in fall 2021 — an extension of a pre-COVID survey -19 conducted in fall 2019.

“The importance of job quality was underscored by the pandemic-era labor market conditions of 2020-2021, when frontline and essential workers were hailed as ‘heroes’ by their employers and the public, but faced ongoing occupational health and safety risks. , unpredictable work schedules, and inadequate or excessive work hours,” said Robert Bruno, professor of labor and employment relations at Illinois and co-author of the research.

On a scale of 0 to 10, the average worker in Illinois rated the quality of their work as 6.8. Overall, a quarter of workers in Illinois rated their job quality as very high – 9 or 10 on the scale – while more than a quarter of workers rated their job quality as low or very low. According to the research, unionized members rated their job quality nearly one point higher than non-unionized workers.

The study also found that around 63% of all part-time workers were underemployed and only 29% were satisfied with their number of working hours. Among full-time workers, about 44% were satisfied with their work hours.

The indicator consisted of seven basic dimensions, each with associated components. They included subjective and objective measures related to job satisfaction, life satisfaction, worker health and well-being, work-life balance, conflict and ‘integration.

The results also paint a more difficult picture of employment for women, single parents, racial and ethnic minorities and workers with disabilities.

“These groups tend to have less access to high-quality jobs,” Bruno said. “They tend to have jobs with lower quality benefits than married parents, men, white workers and non-disabled workers. While these workers are already disadvantaged in the labor market, their lack of benefits makes them even more vulnerable to unsafe working conditions and economic hardship.

The labor market recovery from the COVID-19 shutdowns has only further revealed both degraded working conditions and the importance of improving a number of job characteristics in order to improve measures. job quality for workers,” said Bruno.

“Our report argues that the focus should be on the quality of the employment relationship and the content of the work,” Bruno said. “The future of work depends both on the prevalence and availability of jobs, but also on what makes a job inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The so-called “big quit” that followed seemed at first glance to be about burnout or withdrawal from the labor force, but it was really more about worker mobility – their ability to find jobs that offer better working conditions than their previous job.

“Thus, it is crucial that attention is paid to the underlying factors of job and workplace quality.”

The implications of the study suggest that the state of Illinois should formally adopt the indicator’s seven components as a measure of statewide job quality and track these numbers annually, a Bruno said.

“Public bodies should allocate taxpayers’ money to private employers based on companies that create or improve the quality of their jobs,” he said. “Ideally, the state of Illinois should require most employers to collect and submit data to the state on these measures of job quality, and the state should produce annual reports on trends in these measures. and associated outcomes for workers and labor markets.”

To significantly increase labor force participation rates as well as worker well-being outcomes, the evolution of work and job quality in the age of COVID-19 cannot be left to market mechanisms alone, Bruno said.

“Labour writ large is a social convention that depends on public policy,” he said. “This research is an investment in the belief that strong research and evidence can inform the development of improved policies to help produce better outcomes for workers.”

Bruno’s co-authors are Dylan Bellisle, Alison Dickson, Peter Fugiel, and Larissa Petrucci of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; and Lonnie Golden of Pennsylvania State University.

A data dashboard showing the results of the study is available at

The paper is part of the Renewing the Middle Class Project, a research-based initiative charged with investigating labor market institutions and policies in today’s economy while elevating public discourse on issues affecting workers. . The project is led by Bruno.

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