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Transportation Workers Rank Last on Gallup's Well-Being Index

Transportation Workers Rank Last on Gallup's Well-Being Index

Photograph by Getty Images

Encouraging your kid to be a doctor may be cliché, but it’s still not a bad idea. In a new ranking of 14 occupations, Gallup finds that physicians lead for well-being: They scored 78 out of a possible 100 for positive physical and emotional health, good work environment, and access to insurance and other basic health resources. Transportation workers scored the worst (63.3). Managers and executives ranked fifth (72.3).

Sure, finances are part of it: The average worker in the transportation industry earns $33,200 per year ,compared with $72,730 for the average health-care practitioner, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2011 data, the most recent available. Still, farming, fishery, and forestry workers earn even less than those in transportation ($24,300) and came in higher, so it’s not all about pay.

Gallup’s survey also asked about workers’ physical and emotional well-being. It found that transportation workers reported poor work environment. About half don’t exercise regularly, and half don’t regularly consume fruits and vegetables. Transportation workers also have the highest level of obesity (37.1 percent) and the third-highest smoking rate (30.1 percent), after construction and installation workers.

“They have a lot of chronic conditions, and they don’t have nearly as good basic access needs met—a lot don’t have health insurance, for example,” says Dan Witters, research director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

While the BLS expects the number of transportation workers to increase by 14.8 percent in the decade to 2020, growth in health-care occupations, 25.9 percent, should outpace it.

Well-being by Profession, Best to Worst

1. Physicians (Score of 78)

2. K-12 school teachers (73.5)

3. Business owners (73.4)

4. Professionals, excluding physicians, nurses, and teachers (73)

5. Managers and executives (72.3)

6. Nurses (71.6)

7. Farming, fishery, and forestry workers (68.1)

8. Clerical workers (68.1)

9.  Salespeople (68)

10. Construction and mining workers (66.1)

11. Service workers, such as police, waiters, barbers, and janitors (65.3)

12. Installation and repair people (64.8)

13. Manufacturing workers (64.3)

14. Transportation workers (63.3)

* Gallup’s findings are based on more than 170,000 interviews conducted from January through December 2012.

Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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