The Forgotten Working Class: A Call to Action Based upon a Repeated Cross-Sectional Examination of the Relationships Among Social Class, Financial Satisfaction, and Exhaustion

Stacey R. Kessler, Kennesaw State University
Melissa B. Gutworth, Montclair State University


For several decades, working-class employees have been forgotten by policy makers and society more generally. This notion is further exacerbated in the organizational studies literature, where research mostly focuses on professional employees. In the current study, we seek to rectify this omission by examining how the experience of working-class employees has changed over time. We use a nationally representative sample of 35,771 U.S. employees collected between 1972 and 2018 as part of the repeated cross-sections of the General Social Survey Results suggest a growing disparity between working-class and middle/upper-class employees, with working-class employees reporting lower levels of financial satisfaction and higher levels of work exhaustion compared to middle/upper-class employees. Moreover, these discrepancies have increased over time, suggesting that this population of employees has indeed been forgotten.