Economy

U.S. Unemployment Ticks Up in Mid-November

Underemployment is at 18.2%, with 9.7% working part time but seeking full-time jobs

PRINCETON, NJ -- Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, is 8.5% in mid-November -- up from 8.3% in mid-October, but down significantly from 9.2% in mid-November 2010. Gallup's mid-month unemployment measure suggests the government is likely to report no change in its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November 2011.

Gallup's U.S. Unemployment Rate, 2010-2011

An additional 9.7% of U.S. employees work part time but want full-time work, up from 9.2% in mid-October. The current reading is significantly higher than the 8.5% of mid-November 2010.

Percentage of U.S. Workers Working Part Time and Wanting Full-Time Work, 2010-2011

Underemployment, a measure that combines the percentage of workers who are unemployed with the percentage working part time but wanting full-time work, is 18.2% -- up from 17.5% a month ago. Underemployment stood at 17.7% in mid-November 2010.

Gallup's U.S. Underemployment Rate, 2010-2011

Implications

Gallup's analysis suggests that the deterioration in November unemployment is essentially the result of seasonal factors. In turn, this implies the government is likely to report on the first Friday in December that there was no change in the U.S. unemployment rate for November.

Gallup's November unemployment data are generally consistent with the modest improvement seen in the U.S. economy during recent months, with October sales being better than expected and manufacturing appearing somewhat stronger than anticipated. The unemployment data are also consistent with Gallup's slightly improved spending data and consumer Christmas spending intentions. The modest recent improvement in the U.S. economy seems strong enough to keep the unemployment situation from deteriorating further, but not powerful enough to create the jobs needed to lower the unemployment rate.

Possibly further reflecting the tenuous nature of the current economic situation, Gallup's underemployment data suggest that today's employers are increasingly relying on part-time employees who would prefer to work full time. A year-over-year comparison shows that while the unemployment rate is down 0.7 percentage points, this is more than offset by the increase of 1.2 points in the percentage of those working part time who want full-time work. The unemployment rate appears to have improved over the past year largely because Americans are taking part-time work when they can't get full-time jobs.

Of course, a part-time job is better than no job and, in the past, part-time jobs often led to full-time employment. However, in the current economic environment, part-time hiring may reflect employers' caution more than anything else and could presage a sharp increase in unemployment once the holiday season ends and companies go back to minimizing their workforces for the winter.

How Gallup's Unemployment Measure Differs From the U.S. Government's Measure

Gallup.com reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in Gallup.com stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:

Daily: Employment, Economic Confidence and Job Creation, Consumer Spending
Weekly: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending

Read more about Gallup's economic measures.

View our economic release schedule.

Survey Methods

Gallup classifies American workers as underemployed if they are either unemployed or working part time but wanting full-time work. The findings reflect more than 18,000 phone interviews with U.S. adults aged 18 and older in the workforce, collected over a 30-day period. Gallup's results are not seasonally adjusted and are ahead of government reports by approximately two weeks.

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking from Oct. 16-Nov. 15, 2011, with a random sample of 18,618 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

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.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/150794/Unemployment-Ticks-Mid-November.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030