BUSINESS

9 Countries With The Best Jobs

Panama is looking pretty sweet.

This story was originally published by 24/7 Wall St.

Not only do people the world over rely on their jobs for their livelihood, but economic growth is the result of people working in one occupation or another. Professional lives vary considerably around the world, however, and the difference between gainful employment and true job satisfaction is often vast.

Based on “Where the Great Jobs Are,” a report released this October through a partnership of survey company Gallup and nonprofit advocacy group Meridian International, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the countries most likely to provide “great” jobs. Survey participants were asked 12 questions, which Gallup used to determine the level of engagement among workers in each country. Great jobs are full-time, engaging occupations. Panama and the United States lead the world with 13% of adults in each country who have great jobs.

In more than 20 countries at the bottom of Gallup’s survey, job satisfaction is very poor with less than 1% of adults employed in a great job. For this reason, 24/7 Wall St. ranked the 10 bottom countries based on the percentage of adults who have “good” jobs — defined as full-time, steady employment, excluding self-employed. Just 5% of adults in Burkina Faso have a good job, the lowest in the world.

According to former U.S. Ambassador for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations Stuart Holliday, president and CEO of Meridian International, traditional measures of economic health such as unemployment rate and GDP per capita are inadequate. “We have been measuring progress using indicators that really don’t represent what’s happening on the ground in these countries,” Holliday said.

GDP and unemployment do not correlate with one another and often fail to reflect what is actually going on in a country. For Holliday, the most remarkable finding of Gallup’s survey is also the considerable difference between a good and a great job.

A majority of adults in only five countries surveyed had good jobs, quite low compared with traditional employment rates. Looking at the prevalence of great jobs, even the world’s economic leaders had only around 10% of adults reporting such job satisfaction.

The official unemployment rate in most countries includes people looking or struggling to find work, as well as self-employed subsistence farmers and part-time workers — and many of the employed are living in poverty. Not only does the unemployment rate fail to capture the plight of underemployed individuals, but also full-time, steady employment does not necessarily mean satisfying and rewarding work. “A great job goes beyond that,” Holliday said.

High volumes of great jobs are typically found in countries with highly developed economies. “That would be a sort of a traditional economic indicator of an environment where there’s good education, rule of law, less corruption,” Holliday explained.

Advanced economies tend to be relatively large, and the countries with the most great jobs have relatively high GDP per capita. However, only three national economies — the United States, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait — are in the top 10 among countries surveyed.

All of the countries with the worst jobs, on the other hand, have GDP per capita of less than $3,000. By contrast, the U.S. GDP per capita is nearly $50,000.

The countries with the best jobs also tend to have relatively well-educated populations, while the opposite tends to be true among the bottom 10 countries. The literacy rate among adults in all of the countries with the best jobs, for example, exceeds 94%.

To identify the countries with the best jobs, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of adults in each of 139 countries reporting “great” jobs. To identify the countries with the worst jobs, we reviewed the share of adults in each of 139 countries reporting “good” jobs. The data came from “Where the Great Jobs Are”, a report released jointly by Gallup and Meridian International this October. The report is based on a Gallup survey containing 12 questions. GDP per capita came from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and is shown in international dollars, which adjust for currency price disparities and cost of living. Unemployment rates also came from the IMF. Education attainment rates, poverty rates, life expectancy, and literacy rates came from the World Bank. All figures are for the most recent available year. Labor market indices came from the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Competitiveness Report.

These are the countries with the best and worst jobs.

  • 9 Uruguay
    <strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;great&rdquo; jobs:</strong> 9%<br><strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;good&rdquo;
    WILL & DENI MCINTYRE via Getty Images
    > Pct. of adults with “great” jobs: 9%
    > Pct. of adults with “good” jobs: 33%
    > 2014 GDP per capita: $17,723
    > Unemployment rate: 6.3%Roughly one-third of adults in Uruguay have steady employment and a steady paycheck. Also 9.% of adult residents are also engaged at work and believe their job matters. While the slightly less than one in 10 adults who have great jobs may seem like a small share, only six countries have a higher share of adults employed in engaging and rewarding jobs. Chile is the only country on the continent with a larger share of the adult population with great jobs.
  • 8 Mongolia
    <strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;great&rdquo; jobs:</strong> 9%<br><strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;good&rdquo;
    heckepics via Getty Images
    > Pct. of adults with “great” jobs: 9%
    > Pct. of adults with “good” jobs: 28%
    > 2014 GDP per capita: $8,802
    > Unemployment rate: 7.7%The total value of goods and services produced annually in Mongolia — the world’s most sparsely populated country — is $10.4 billion. While the country’s economy is small compared to other nations reviewed, GDP grew by more than 17% last year, the fastest economic growth rate in the world. Mongolia’s Gobi desert contains some of the world’s largest coal and copper deposits, and the massive strip mining operations of multinational energy companies in the area have been increasing dramatically over the past several years. As a result of the economic growth, circumstances have improved for many Mongolians, although perhaps not by as much as the booming growth would suggest. A relatively low percentage of adults, some 28%, have steady, full-time employment — or what is considered a good job. Still, of that group, a relatively large share find their work to be rewarding.
  • 7 Kuwait
    <strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;great&rdquo; jobs:</strong> 9%<br><strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;good&rdquo;
    Gavin Hellier via Getty Images
    > Pct. of adults with “great” jobs: 9%
    > Pct. of adults with “good” jobs: 50%
    > 2014 GDP per capita: $67,131
    > Unemployment rate: 2.1%Many Americans know Kuwait as the small Middle Eastern nation that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein attacked, leading to the start of first Gulf War. Kuwait also ranks as one of the best countries in the world for job quality. Approximately half of Kuwaiti adults have a full-time, steady job with a paycheck, and 9% have an engaging and enjoyable work experience. One likely reason so many adults have a healthy level of employment is the nation’s robust economy. Kuwait’s unemployment rate of roughly 2% is one of the lowest in the world. Kuwaiti GDP grew by nearly 10% last year, one of the fastest growth rates in the world.
  • 6 United Arab Emirates
    &gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;great&rdquo; jobs: 10%<br>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;good&rdquo; jobs: 58%<br>&gt; 2014
    Dan Kitwood via Getty Images
    > Pct. of adults with “great” jobs: 10%
    > Pct. of adults with “good” jobs: 58%
    > 2014 GDP per capita: $58,917
    > Unemployment rate: N/A


    No country in the world has a larger share of adults who work at least 30 hours a week for a steady paycheck than the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Over half of the adult population, 58%, has a good job. While the share of adults with a good job captures a measure of economic security and quality of life to a degree, it does not reflect levels of job satisfaction. One in 10 adults in the UAE have a job where they utilize their strengths and feel as though they are accomplishing something meaningful. As in many countries with relatively large shares of adults with great jobs, UAE has a relatively large economy. After adjusting for regional price differences, per capita GDP in the Gulf nation is equal to nearly $59,000 per person, a larger GDP per capita than that of all but five other countries. Kuwait is the only other Middle Eastern countries with a similarly large share of adults with great jobs.
  • 5 Russia
    <strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;great&rdquo; jobs:</strong> 10%<br><strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;good&rdquo
    ser-alim via Getty Images
    > Pct. of adults with “great” jobs: 10%
    > Pct. of adults with “good” jobs: 47%
    > 2014 GDP per capita: $22,564
    > Unemployment rate: 6.5%Home to roughly 143 million people, Russia is one of the largest countries in the world, both by population and landmass. Literacy is is an essential component to a functional economy, and effectively the entire population of Russia’s adults can read and write. One in 10 Russian adults have jobs where they are engaged, use their strengths, and feel their work is meaningful. Only four countries have a higher share of adults that are equally satisfied with their jobs.
  • 4 Costa Rica
    <strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;great&rdquo; jobs:</strong> 11%<br><strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;good&rdquo
    John Coletti via Getty Images
    > Pct. of adults with “great” jobs: 11%
    > Pct. of adults with “good” jobs: 32%
    > 2014 GDP per capita: $13,096
    > Unemployment rate: 7.7%For some time, Costa Rica has been one of the more politically and economically stable countries among Central American nations. While Costa Rica’s economy has historically been based on the export of crops such as bananas and coffee, the country’s greatest commodity is tourism. This industry appear to be creating a good deal of steady, full-time work, and more than one in 10 Costa Rican adults work in engaging jobs that provide meaning.
  • 3 Chile
    &gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;great&rdquo; jobs: 11%<br>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;good&rdquo; jobs: 37%<br>&gt; 2014
    bohemia8 via Getty Images
    > Pct. of adults with “great” jobs: 11%
    > Pct. of adults with “good” jobs: 37%
    > 2014 GDP per capita: $20,188
    > Unemployment rate: 7.1%


    One of the strongest economies in South America, Chile also has a relatively high share of residents with great jobs. Roughly 11% of Chile’s adults have steady, engaging jobs that they feel are meaningful. The United States and Panama are the only countries in the world where a larger share of adults has a great job. The South American nation has experienced these positive economic and quality of life outcomes despite relatively low educational attainment. Only 51.1% of Chileans over the age of 24 have completed secondary schooling, or the equivalent of high school. In the United States, slightly more than 88% of adults have completed high school.
  • 2 United States
    <strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;great&rdquo; jobs:</strong> 13%<br><strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;good&rdquo
    ventdusud via Getty Images
    > Pct. of adults with “great” jobs: 13%
    > Pct. of adults with “good” jobs: 44%
    > 2014 GDP per capita: $49,725
    > Unemployment rate: 8.9%The United States is tied with Panama for the distinction of having highest concentration of quality employment opportunities in the world. Based on the 12 questions in Gallup’s survey, which determined whether employees had opportunities to grow and received adequate feedback on their work, among a range of other indicators, 13% of U.S. adults have a great job. Like several other countries where individuals report healthy professional lives, the United States is one of the wealthiest in the world. The nation’s GDP of $15.5 trillion is the highest economic output worldwide. In addition, the country’s relatively strong education system helps improve occupational satisfaction.
  • 1 Panama
    <strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;great&rdquo; jobs:</strong> 13%<br><strong>&gt; Pct. of adults with &ldquo;good&rdquo
    marshalgonz via Getty Images
    > Pct. of adults with “great” jobs: 13%
    > Pct. of adults with “good” jobs: 31%
    > 2014 GDP per capita: $15,369
    > Unemployment rate: 4.5%Although Panama’s unemployment rate is a relatively low 4.5%, only 31.0% of adults in the Central American country are working at least 30 hours a week and receive a steady paycheck, according to a multi year survey conducted by Gallup. Panama ties the United States, however, as the country with the highest share of adults who report having great jobs. Panama is also doing well by more traditional economic measures. The Panamanian economy expanded by roughly 10.8% in 2014, the sixth highest growth rate in the world that year.
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