In U.S., Government Hiring Levels Modest Before Sequester
Economy

In U.S., Government Hiring Levels Modest Before Sequester

by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist

Nongovernment job creation improved slightly in February

PRINCETON, NJ -- Government job creation in the U.S. was modest at +3 in February, before the sequester -- essentially unchanged from +4 in January. At the same time, nongovernment job creation improved slightly to +21 last month from +18 in January.

Trend: U.S. Job Creation Index, Monthly Averages, by Type of Employer

Gallup's Job Creation Index reflects the difference between the percentage of employed Americans who say their employers are hiring and expanding the size of their workforces and the percentage who say their employers are letting workers go and reducing the size of their workforces. Gallup asks government and nongovernment workers this question.

Government and nongovernment job creation suffered after the recession and financial crisis. However, the trends began separating in mid-2010 as nongovernment job creation improved and government job creation remained weak. This continues to be the case even though overall government job creation has been trending slightly positive since October 2012.

Federal government net hiring improved to -5 in February from -10 the prior month. State government net hiring was essentially unchanged at +8 compared with +10 in January, while local government net hiring declined to +2 last month from +8 in January.

U.S. Job Creation Index, Monthly Averages, by Type of Employer, January 2012-February 2013

Federal government hiring remained strong during the recession before it tapered off through much of 2010; it has been net negative since mid-2011. State and local government net hiring turned net negative shortly after the financial crisis and remained that way until mid-2012.

Overall Job Creation Up Slightly in February

Job creation nationwide improved slightly to +18 in February, after falling to an 11-month low of +16 in January. As a result, overall job creation is back to where it was in November 2012.

U.S. Job Creation Index, Monthly Averages, January 2008-February 2013

Job creation increased the most in the Midwest (+4) and the South (+4) in February. The East experienced a smaller increase at +2 and the West was essentially unchanged at -1.

Gallup Job Creation Index -- Recent Monthly Averages, by Region

Implications

Prior to the federal budget sequester's taking effect March 1, federal government net hiring was slightly negative and about where it has been since October 2012. While hiring at the federal level held up much longer after the recession and financial crisis than did that of state and local governments, federal net hiring has remained weak even as state and local government hiring has moved into positive territory. Presumably, if the projections concerning the sequester's impact are correct, all government net hiring will deteriorate over the coming months, with federal net hiring potentially suffering more than state and local government hiring.

In turn, any decline in government net hiring should have a negative impact on overall job creation. Of course, this decline may be offset by an increase in nongovernment net hiring over the months ahead.

Regardless, Gallup's Payroll to Population job measure for February shows a lack of improvement year-over-year in job market conditions. While this may be good news for Wall Street because it will keep the Federal Reserve pouring money into the economy, the same may not be true for Main Street. So far, Gallup economic data suggest value creation on Wall Street has yet to translate into job creation on Main Street.

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, 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

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 1-28, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 15,555 adults, aged 18 and older, employed full or part time, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

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

For results based on the total sample of 12,600 nongovernment workers, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

For results based on the total sample of 2,733 government workers, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

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 of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphones 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 to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

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.

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