Economy

Americans Agree: Quality Jobs Remain Hard to Find

by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist

One in 10 Americans think now is a “good time” to find a quality job

PRINCETON, NJ -- As the Obama administration and Congress shift their focus to the economy and jobs after the State of the Union, Gallup polling suggests they need to consider quality as well as quantity. One in 10 Americans (9%) believe now is a "good time" to find a "quality job" -- a situation that has persisted over the past year, and a huge deterioration in job-market conditions from January 2007, when nearly half of Americans (48%) expressed optimism about finding a quality job.

Finding a Quality Job Nationwide: Percentage Who Say It Is a Good Time to Find a Quality Job, January 2007-January 2010 Trend

While Americans disagree about many things -- and rarely reflect an overwhelming consensus about anything concerning the economy -- their views about the lack of quality jobs are a clear exception; the total lack of optimism about the prospects of finding a quality job in January 2010 is consistent across ages, incomes, genders, and regions of the country.

Percentage Saying It Is a Good Time to Find a Quality Job, by Age

Percentage Saying It Is a Good Time to Find a Quality Job, by Income

Percentage Saying It Is a Good Time to Find a Quality Job, by Gender and Region

Commentary

Modeling based on Gallup's Job Creation Index suggests that the U.S. unemployment rate is likely to exceed 10.0% when reported on Feb. 5, while Gallup's consumer spending measure provides little reason to expect improvement in discretionary spending anytime soon. Hiring about three-quarters of a million census takers may temporarily help with the unemployment statistics, but these temporary, low-paying jobs reflect the much larger challenge: a lack of quality jobs.

Given this year's approaching midterm elections, and the time it takes for policy changes to affect the economy, it may be tempting for the president and Congress to seek some kind of quick fix to create jobs and reduce the unemployment rate. And a 1930s-style jobs corps, like adding census takers, could have its supporters.

However, Gallup's quality job data show the real problem offers much more of a challenge than can be met by just increasing the number of part-time and low-paying jobs. The objective should not be simply to get the unemployment rate below double digits. Instead, it should be to return to the conditions of January 2007: a time when one in two Americans were optimistic about finding a "quality" job. In turn, this means the "pivot" in the nation's capital should include not only an intense focus on creating high-paying private-sector jobs but also on improving education so there are highly educated employees to fill those jobs.

On Feb. 23, 2010, at its world headquarters in Washington, D.C., Gallup for the first time will release the findings from its daily U.S. employment tracking, including insights into the U.S. workforce's state of mind. Learn more ...

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,023 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 8-10, 2010. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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