The survey is the first of its kind and was carried out on behalf of Unison by NOP. Ten thousand local government workers were contacted and 45% replied.
The findings show staff are unhappy with pay and almost half are looking for another job. Local government head Malcolm Wing said: 'It took some time for the NHS to realise that people were turning their backs on the health service, and there are similar problems in local government.
'This survey shows the depth of despair people feel. I am worried this pay offer is not enough to prevent a recruitment and retention crisis.'
National joint council employers' chair Brian Baldwin said: 'This is not an easy settlement . . . it will cost jobs. But given the 3.3% pay rise for teachers and others in the public sector, plus rising inflation, it is the best deal we could have negotiated.'
Employers' secretary Charles Nolda said of the survey: 'If you ask people whether they're well paid they give you predictable answers. The more interesting question is how people behave. The turnover of staff in the public sector is about half that of staff in the private sector.'
The survey shows:
73% of staff who replied have experienced staff shortages
58 % disagreed with the statement: 'I am well paid for the job I do'
44% were looking for a new job
73% felt workload had increased
61% said morale had got worse
Areas with the biggest shortages:
social work, libraries, residential care, day care, leisure centres and housing