U.S. Payroll to Population Rate Stagnant in March
Economy

U.S. Payroll to Population Rate Stagnant in March

by Jenny Marlar

Gallup's U.S. unemployment rate, without seasonal adjustment, unchanged at 8.0%

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P), as measured by Gallup, was 43.4% for the month of March, unchanged from 43.3% in February and in line with the 43.7% found in March 2012.

Trend: U.S. Payroll to Population Employment Rates

Gallup's P2P metric is an estimate of the percentage of the U.S. adult population aged 18 and older who are employed full time by an employer for at least 30 hours per week. P2P is not seasonally adjusted.

These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with more than 30,000 Americans conducted March 1-30 by landline and cellphone. Gallup does not include adults who are self-employed, working part time, unemployed, or out of the workforce as payroll-employed in the P2P metric.

Because of seasonal fluctuations, year-over-year comparisons are helpful in determining the degree to which monthly changes are due to seasonal hiring patterns versus the result of growth in permanent full-time positions. While P2P for March is flat compared with the same month in 2012, it is still significantly better than the same months in 2011 and 2010, when the rate was 41.9% and 42.4%, respectively. Essentially, the P2P rate made gains in late 2011/early 2012 that have since been maintained.

Seasonally Unadjusted Unemployment Unchanged in March

Unlike Gallup's P2P rate, which is a percentage of the total population, traditional employment metrics, such as the unemployment rates Gallup and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, are based on the percentage of the workforce. Gallup defines the "workforce" as adults who are working or actively looking for work and available for employment. The U.S. workforce participation rate in March was 67.7%, unchanged from 67.8% in February and in March 2012.

Gallup's unadjusted unemployment rate for the U.S. workforce was 8.0% for the month of March, the same as in February, but a modest improvement from 8.4% in March 2012.

Gallup's seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate for March was 7.8%, a slight uptick from 7.6% in February, but down since March 2012. Gallup calculates a seasonally adjusted employment rate by applying the adjustment factor the government used for the same month in the previous year. Last year, the government adjusted March's rate down by 0.2 points, but February's was adjusted downward by 0.4 points, which accounts for the month-over-month increase in seasonally adjusted unemployment, despite the lack of change in the unadjusted rate.

Gallup Adjusted and Unadjusted Unemployment Rate Trend, January 2011-March 2013

Underemployment, as measured without seasonal adjustment, was 17.6% in March, down a half a point from 18.1% in February, and down, though not significantly, from 18.0% in March 2012. Underemployment is now significantly improved from the 20.3% found in March 2010, which was the highest Gallup has measured.

Gallup's U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed with the percentage of those who are working part time but looking for full-time work.

Gallup's U.S. Underemployment Rate, Monthly Averages

The percentage of workers working part time but wanting full-time work was 9.6% in March, a decline from 10.1% in February, but unchanged from 9.6% in March 2012.

Percentage of U.S. Workers Working Part Time but Wanting Full-Time Work, Monthly Averages

Implications

Gallup's data depict an employment situation that failed to improve in March, and has remained relatively little changed year over year. Workers did not find the full-time jobs they were seeking, and the labor force and unadjusted unemployment rates were flat. The one seemingly bright spot was the improvement in the number of workers employed part time but looking for full-time work. However, given the lack of change in the other measures, it is most likely that these workers have settled for part-time work and have given up the search for a full-time position.

Gallup's seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate -- the closest comparison it has to the official numbers released by the BLS -- increased slightly in March, though the unadjusted rate was flat. However, the unemployment rate as reported by the BLS each month does not always track precisely with the Gallup estimate, in large part due to differences in the adjustment procedure the BLS uses, and because of some differences in the way in which data are obtained. The BLS may report no change in the unemployment rate or even a slight increase on Friday as a result of the seasonal adjustments, and Gallup's numbers illustrate that in fact little has changed.

Gallup's U.S. Unemployment Measures, March 2013

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, 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 March 1-30, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 30,630 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the 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 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. Cellphone 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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