Who's got happy workers? Survey gods must be crazy on this one
Wake up and good morning. Surveys shouting which city is better than another used to be a dime a dozen. But this new one from some web site called CareerBliss is inflationary, and now such surveys are worth about a penny a dozen. Why? Because CareerBliss, in its infinite survey wisdom, has somehow decided that Jacksonville is No. 3 in the nation -- behind San Jose (Silicon Valley) and San Francisco -- as the happiest city for workers. Miami came in No. 4 among happy workers. And... that Tampa somehow ranks among the 10 cities with the unhappiest workers. (St. Paul, Minn., ranked the worst.) See the survey for yourself.
Jacksonville's jobless rate is 11 percent, Miami's is 12. 5 percent and Tampa Bay''s is 12 percent. Not much to differentiate these cities on the "happy worker" meter there. (For the record, San Jose's unemployment rate is 10.7 percent and San Francisco's is 9 percent, the national average. So low jobless rates do not seem much of a factor in the happy worker rankings.)
CareerBliss picked the top 50 cities by evaluating eight factors that affect work happiness: growth opportunities, compensation, benefits, work-life balance, career advancement, senior management, job security and whether the employee would recommend the company to others. Cities which ranked high for having happy employees include Birmingham, Ala., Memphis, Tenn., and El Paso, Texas, which all outranked well-known metropolitan areas such as Chicago, New York, and Atlanta. CareerBliss says the research shows that workers in cities such as Jacksonville and Washington, DC are happier with job security, work-life balance, and growth opportunities.
Sorry, CareerBliss. You can't tell me that two major coastal metro areas in Florida like Jacksonville and Miami differ so radically with Tampa Bay on the happy meter. CareerBliss says people who work in information technology tend to be happier, hence the No. 1 spot for San Jose. Well, Jacksonville is no more a tech hub than Tampa Bay.
Forbes magazine, ever quick to pick up national rankings on anything, blogged about the CareerBliss survey but also stumbled over the bizarre ranking of Jacksonville and Miami. Says Forbes: "The Sunshine State’s Jacksonville and Miami follow at No. 3 and 4 respectively. These are surprises, tending to scale low on other quality-of-work-and-life surveys, such as No. 114 of 200 on the Best Cities for Business and Careers and No. 44 of 50 on the Best Cities For Working Mothers lists. (CareerBliss chief technology officer Matt) Miller was similarly surprised to see Jacksonville in the top three."
Miller told Forbes that Jacksonville is experiencing "a lot of growth." He aid "employees at Bank of America, which has a stronghold in the Florida city, are pleased with their company’s growth as it plans to expand in the city in the coming year."
CareerBliss says San Jose's superior pay scale with an $82,000 average salary makes its people happier, in contrast to the unhappiest working city of St. Paul where CareerBliss say salaries average $62,000. Hate to break it to you, but Jacksonville's average salary (like Tampa Bay and Miami) is much lower than St. Paul's, so that should make them less happy, right?
Nor does CareerBliss seem to factor in cost of living. I'll bet that a high percentage of that $82,000 pay in San Jose gets funneled into pricey mediocre housing, often far away from the job on a jammed highway. Ever seen San Jose's commuting nightmare? It makes I-275 jam-ups look modest.
Finally, explain this to me. Forbes this month just published its annual ranking of the nation's 20 Most Miserable Cities. Who's on it? Miami ranks No. 2 for massive foreclosure activity and "corruption off the chart." Jacksonville ranked No. 19 for its high crime and foreclosure rates and its miserable "lone pro sports team" -- the NFL Jaguars.
By the way, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach also ranked among the 20 most miserable cities.
And Tampa Bay? Sorry, I guess we're not miserable enough to make that list.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist