PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's Job Creation Index reached a 2 ½-year high of +12 in February, breaking a four-month period of essentially no improvement.
The +12 Index score reflects 30% of employees nationwide saying their employers are hiring and 18% saying their employers are letting workers go. This is a slight improvement from January, when 29% of companies were hiring and 19% letting go, but a major improvement from February 2010, when 25% were hiring and 23% letting go.
Job Market Conditions Vary by RegionThe improved job market conditions seen in February were driven by a sharp improvement in the West, to +10 from +5 in January. The percentage of employees in this region who reported hiring at their places of work increased to 29% from 26% in January, while the percentage of employees who said their employers are letting workers go fell to 19% from 21%.
Nationwide, job market conditions were best in the South (+14) and the Midwest (+13), with neither region registering improvement from January. Job market conditions in the East (+9) were unchanged and now look similar to those in the West. (The full trends for each region are on page 2 of this report.)
Hiring Conditions Worst in State and Local Governments
A negative jobs environment for state and local government workers continues. In February, more state government employees reported that their organizations are letting people go (37%) than hiring (19%), for an index score of -18 among this group. The same is true among local governments (-11), with 17% hiring and 28% letting go.
Among federal government employees, 32% reported hiring and 31% letting go in February, for an index score still in positive territory at +1, though federal job market conditions are much weaker now than they were during 2010.
While Gallup's Job Creation Index shows hiring and firing conditions nationwide were slightly better in February than in recent months, they remain weak. Job market conditions are better now than they have been over the past couple of years, but they are no better than they were during the recessionary period of September-October 2008.
With February's improvement in job market conditions in the West, the differences in job creation across regions narrowed, although the relative strength of U.S. manufacturing and exports -- and the high price of energy -- continued to benefit the Midwest and South.
On the other hand, job market conditions in state and local governments continue to languish. This may explain, at least in part, the intensity of the dispute between state governments trying to cut their budgets and employee unions trying to maintain their jobs and benefits. Job market conditions at the state level are already depressed.
Given the continuing depressed conditions in the government job market, it is even more imperative that private-sector job creation remain a top national priority if the U.S. economy is going to avoid even higher unemployment and underemployment levels in the months ahead.
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:
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For Gallup Daily tracking, Gallup interviews approximately 1,000 national adults, aged 18 and older, each day. The Gallup Job Creation Index results are based on a random sample of approximately 500 current full- and part-time employees each day.
National results for February are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with 14,313 employees conducted Feb. 1-27, 2011. For this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point. Regional results for February are based on interviews totaling more than 3,000 in each region. For each total regional sample, the maximum 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 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.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.