The 10 Most Dishonest Professions
Dec 15, 2011 | Laura Mortkowitz
Nurses, doctors and pharmacists must be riding high on the knowledge that Americans believe them to be the most honest and ethical, according to a Gallup poll. Of course, there are jobs on the other end of the spectrum: those professions that very few Americans believe are honest or ethical.
Since 1976, Gallup has been asking Americans to rate the honesty and ethics of numerous professions with answers of very high, high, average, low and very low. Three medical professions topped this list this year: nurses, pharmacists and doctors.
Some of the lowest ranked professions aren’t all that surprising, especially considering the state of the U.S. economy.
1. Members of Congress
Almost two-thirds of Americans (64%) rated the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress as low or very low. Typically, the rating for this profession is never very high, peaking at 25% in 2001. However, this year, they established a new low rating, with only 7% them as high or very high.
In general, people in politics don’t fare well. In the past the poll has included local officeholders, state officeholders, senators and state governors. None of those has received a very high or high rating of more than 26%, and have even been as low as 11%.
This profession was a recent addition to the Gallup poll. Only added in 2007, lobbyists consistently have a small percent rating their honesty as high or very high. Although this year’s 7% ties last year, it’s an improvement over the mere 5% in 2007.
3. Car Salespeople
There is a stigma around being a car salesperson, and Americans continue to think that they are being swindled, with only 7% rating this profession’s honesty and ethical standards as high or very high. This profession is regularly in the single digits, hitting as low as 5% in 1998 and 2007 and as high as 9% in 2004.
Only included in the poll every three years, telemarketers are always in the single digits. This year, 8% of Americans rated them as high or very high.
5. Advertising Practitioners
Over the years Americans’ opinions of them has wavered a lot, hitting 14% in early 2002 and dropping to 9% in late of that same year. But for three years in a row now, 11% of Americans rated their honesty as high or very high.
This profession is making a comeback. After hitting a low in 2009 with only 9%, stockbrokers are back up at 12%. However, they have a long way to go until they hit their high of 19%, which they were rated in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
7. Business Executives
It probably comes as no surprise that during the years of the recession that the rating for business executives dipped. But in 2011, they were rated at 18%, which is equal to pre-recession rating in 2006.
8. Labor Union Leaders
This year, 18% of Americans rated this professions honesty as high or very high, which is actually the highest rating since 1996.
Like advertising practitioners, ratings for lawyers have bounced all over the place, shooting up from 13% in 1999 to 18% in 2000, but also dropping from 18% in 2008 to 13% in 2009. This year, they’ve landed at 19%, the highest rating since 1996.
10. Real Estate Agents
They are actually doing better now than during the ’90s, when their rating was in the mid-teens. This year, Americans rated them at 20% high or very high, which is a new high rating for this profession.