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U.S. Unemployment Steady at 9.6% in Mid-January

U.S. Unemployment Steady at 9.6% in Mid-January

Underemployment improves to 18.6% in January from 19.0% at the end of December

by Dennis Jacobe

PRINCETON, NJ -- Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, remained at 9.6% in mid-January, the same as at the end of December. This marks a one-percentage-point improvement from 10.6% in mid-January 2010.

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

The percentage of part-time workers who want full-time work improved from 9.4% of the workforce in December to 9.0% in mid-January. Unlike the unemployment rate, however, this percentage is not much different from the 9.2% of mid-January 2010.

Percentage of Americans Working Part Time and Wanting Full-Time Work, January 2010-January 2011 Trend

Underemployment Improves Slightly in Mid-January

Gallup's underemployment measure represents the sum of those unemployed and looking for work plus those working part time but wanting full-time work. The improvement in the percentage of part-time workers wanting full-time work and the stability of Gallup's U.S. unemployment rate combined to produce a slight improvement in underemployment to 18.6% from the 19.0% of December. Underemployment now stands 1.2 percentage points below the 19.8% of mid-January 2010.

U.S. Underemployment, January 2010-January 2011 Trend

Gallup's Perspective on Underemployment

Gallup's finding that the U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged in mid-January 2011 is good news for those looking for work and for the U.S. economy as a whole. Because Gallup's unemployment measure is not seasonally adjusted, it would normally tend to increase at this time of the year as hiring declines and weather affects the ability to do some outdoor jobs. Therefore, the absence of an increase suggests jobs aren't getter even harder to find right now, as happened early last winter.

The year-over-year comparisons provide further good news, with unemployment and underemployment down one percentage point or more from a year ago.

On the other hand, nearly 1 in 10 Americans in the workforce are out of a job, nearly one in five are underemployed, and another 1.3 million Americans have become so discouraged that they are no longer actively seeking work. Given this situation and the relatively anemic rate of improvement of the past year, it's clear why many Americans continue to see jobs as a top national priority. reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in 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.

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Survey Methods

Gallup's U.S. employment measures report the percentage of U.S. adults in the workforce, aged 18 and older, who are underemployed and unemployed, without seasonal adjustment. "Underemployed" respondents are employed part time, but want to work full time, or they are unemployed. Results for each 30-day rolling average are based on telephone interviews with approximately 30,000 adults. Because results are not seasonally adjusted, they are not directly comparable to numbers reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which are based on workers 16 and older.

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Dec. 16, 2010-Jan. 15, 2011, with a random sample of 30,240 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 ±0.7 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 daily sample includes a minimum quota of 200 cell phone respondents and 800 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. 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, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. 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.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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