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Americans Become More Positive About Jobs in January

Americans Become More Positive About Jobs in January

Story Highlights

  • 45% say it's good time to find quality job, highest since 2007
  • Low point on this measure was 8% in 2009 and 2011
  • Democrats significantly more positive than Republicans

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Serving as another indication of the public's perceptions of an improving economy, 45% of Americans now say it is a good time to find a quality job, up from 36% in December, and as high as this indicator has been since May 2007.

Trend: Percentage in U.S. Saying Now Is a Good Time to Find a Quality Job

Gallup has asked Americans about their views of the job market on a monthly basis since August 2001, when 39% of Americans agreed that it was a good time to find a quality job. These views became less positive through 2003, but then turned the corner. By January 2007, 48% said it was a good time to find a quality job -- the highest Gallup has recorded. Positive views of the job market began to drop that year and dropped further with the onset of the Great Recession, reaching the all-time low of 8% in November 2009 and again in November 2011. Since 2012, these attitudes have been recovering, breaking through the 30% line in 2014 for the first time in six years, and jumping to 45% this month.

These more upbeat perceptions about quality jobs accompany several other Gallup measures that indicate an improved U.S. jobs situation. Gallup's unadjusted unemployment rate for December was down to 5.8% -- the lowest in its five-year history -- and similar to the 5.6% reported by the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, which was the lowest since the early months of the recession. Gallup's Job Creation Index -- a measure of workers' perceptions of hiring trends where they work -- has been at its highest post-recession levels in the latter part of 2014. Mentions of jobs or unemployment as the top problems facing the U.S. have also dropped during much of the past year, and are at only 7% in January, the lowest since October 2008.

Democrats Remain Much More Positive Than Republicans

Americans' views of the job market are influenced by their political orientations, with Democrats (56%) significantly more positive than Republicans (35%). This reflects the general tendency for Americans who identify with the party controlling the presidency to be more positive when asked any number of questions about the state of the nation. Prior to 2009, when Republican George. W. Bush was president, Republicans were significantly more positive on this quality jobs question than were Democrats. Despite the continuing gap between Democrats and Republicans, both groups' attitudes are more positive compared with December's report, when 47% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans agreed that it was a good time to find a quality job.

Differences in views of the job market across population subgroups reflect these underlying political differences. Young people and nonwhites are more positive than those who are older and those who are white, respectively, to say it's a good time to find a quality job. Those currently employed are slightly more positive than those who are not employed.

Is Now a Good Time to Find a Quality Job? January 2015 results

Implications

Americans' views of the availability of quality jobs in the U.S. are improving, and are nearly as good as any time in the past 14 years, providing further evidence that the public is seeing significant economic improvement in the U.S. Still, on an absolute basis, less than half say it is a good time to find a quality job. By comparison, when the researchers at the University of Connecticut and Rutgers University asked this same quality job question of those in the labor force toward the end of the dot-com boom, two-thirds or more responded that it was a good time to find a quality job. The late 1990s may have been a truly exceptional time in recent economic history, and Americans in recent years may have become skeptical because of the recession and wary of becoming too optimistic about the economy. It may also be that the nature of the current jobs recovery -- with a continuing absence of higher-paying jobs even as unemployment has come down -- is putting a damper on the recovery in positive economic attitudes.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 5-8, 2015, with a random sample of 804 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, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses, and trends.

Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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