Gallup Poll: Ethics Ratings of All Professions Down in the U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ ratings of nearly all 23 professions measured in Gallup’s 2023 Honesty and Ethics poll are lower than they have been in recent years. Only one profession — labor union leaders — has not declined since 2019, yet a relatively low 25% rate their honesty and ethics as “very high” or “high.”

Nurses remain the most trusted profession, with 78% of U.S. adults currently believing nurses have high honesty and ethical standards. However, that is down seven percentage points from 2019 and 11 points from its peak in 2020.

At the other end of the spectrum, members of Congress, senators, car salespeople and advertising practitioners are viewed as the least ethical, with ratings in the single digits that have worsened or remained flat.

Gallup began measuring the honesty and ethics of various professions in 1976 with annual updates since 1990. Several professions have been included every year, while others have been asked on a rotating basis over time. The latest ethics ratings are from a Dec. 1-20, 2023, poll in which about 800 U.S. adults rated each of 23 professions.

All but one of the professions — veterinarians — were measured in both 2019 and 2023. The honesty and ethics ratings of the 22 other careers have declined by an average of six points since 2019. Twelve of the 13 professions tested in both 2022 and 2023 show at least slightly lower ratings in the past year, except for labor union leaders.

Gallup last asked about veterinarians in 2006, when 71% of U.S. adults viewed them as highly or very highly ethical. This compares with the latest 65%.

In addition to nurses and veterinarians, four other occupations have majority-level positive ratings — engineers, dentists, medical doctors and pharmacists.

Ethics ratings for five professions hit new lows this year, including members of Congress (6%), senators (8%), journalists (19%), clergy (32%) and pharmacists (55%).

The ratings of bankers (19%), business executives (12%) and college teachers (42%) tie their previous low points. Bankers’ and business executives’ ratings were last this low in 2009, just after the Great Recession. College teachers have not been viewed this poorly since 1977.

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