These Are The Most Optimistic Employees In The U.S.

Good news: Most of us are optimistic about the future of work. Better news: The people in these industries have the most rosy outlook.

These Are The Most Optimistic Employees In The U.S.

In light of the recent tragedies across the U.S. and across the globe, it might be hard to maintain a sense of optimism for the future. However, there is a bright spot.


Despite slow economic growth and stagnant wages, PayScale’s survey of 425,219 U.S. workers over the course of the past two years revealed that the majority (59%) are optimistic about their employers’ futures.

This is good news for a variety of reasons: seeing the glass half full has a direct impact on your personal bottom line. Research published by the American Psychological Association found that Americans who exhibit higher-than-average cynicism had lower incomes. In Germany, on average than pessimists.

Optimistic Industries

PayScale found that the workers most likely to exhibit optimism were in the real estate industry, where 38% reported being optimistic in their employers’ future. Coming in next were those in finance and insurance, followed by construction.

The rise in home prices and continued low interest rates–especially since the recession–certainly contributes to the hope of continued growth for those in real estate. PayScale’s analysts also point out, “The largest generation in history, millennials, are entering their peak home-buying years, so new-home construction is poised to see significant growth for the foreseeable future.”

Last year, a different survey conducted by TINYpulse put construction workers at the top of the list of the country’s happiest workers. In addition to robust residential and commercial building markets, that survey revealed that the construction industry has a variety of organizations that offer coaching and assistance with career advancement, all key to creating a sense among workers that they are supported and encouraged to learn and grow.

Optimistic Careers

Specific jobs showed a slightly different picture of worker optimism. The top-ranked optimists were flight attendants. Fifty-nine percent reported that their prospects were bright, followed by 58% of dentists. Taking care of teeth is a growing business; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that dentistry is expected to grow by 16% over the next eight years.


More than half (52.6%) of college and university instructors were optimistic about their employers’ futures as well. The BLS indicates this as a growth profession, too, as the outlook through 2024 is positive, with a 13% increase in the number of jobs. CEOs and real estate brokers are neck and neck, with 47% of their pool reporting in as optimists. Due to the complexity of each role, it’s unlikely that they’ll be replaced by robots anytime soon, so their career prospects are looking bright.

Optimistic States

Geography had an influence on outlook as well. The most positive workers could be found in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. “Home to five national parks—Canyonlands, Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef,” PayScale’s Sean Leslie writes, “travel and tourism is a large and growing part of Utah’s economy. Leslie points out that Utah also counts sporting goods manufacturing, aerospace and defense, and IT in its industry base. “Considering that each of these is lucrative and growing, it makes sense that the ever-industrious workers in the Beehive State would be buzzing about their future prospects,” he writes.

It’s worth noting that even in Utah, optimism isn’t the majority sentiment. Only 36.8% of people reported that their employers’ future was hopeful. The states of Vermont and New Hampshire held the most pessimists. Their optimists only made up about 29% of those surveyed.

About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.