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Chinese Rate Their Job Market Better Than Americans

Chinese Rate Their Job Market Better Than Americans

But China trails U.S. in formal full-time employment

by Rajesh Srinivasan and Bryant Ott

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Majorities of Chinese and Americans in 2011 agree now is a bad time to find a job in the city or area where they live -- but Americans are more negative. Seventy-two percent of Americans say it is a bad time to find a job, compared with 56% of Chinese.

Bad time to find a job

The findings are based on Gallup's global surveys conducted in each country each year since 2007. In 2011, Chinese are more likely (33%) than they have ever been to say it is a good time to find a job, though their views have been fairly consistent. Americans' outlooks have changed more dramatically. The 26% who say now is a good time to find a job locally is up from 14% in 2009, but this is still half of the 50% who shared this opinion in 2007.

Good time to find a job

Chinese are also more positive about the general economic conditions where they live. Eighty percent of Chinese say the economic conditions in communities are getting better, while 5% say they are getting worse. This compares with the 48% of Americans who say their local economic conditions are getting better, while 43% say they are getting worse. Here again, Chinese attitudes have been fairly steady, while Americans' have been more volatile.

Economic conditions getting better

The U.S. still outpaces China on the important measure of whether its residents have formal full-time jobs. In 2011, more than 50% of the U.S. workforce was employed full time by an employer, compared with between 30% and 39% of the Chinese workforce. Between 15% and 25% of the U.S. workforce was underemployed -- meaning adults were unemployed or employed part time but wanting full-time work -- compared with 15% or fewer in China.


Some macroeconomic forecasts indicate China will eventually overtake the U.S. as the world's largest economy, depending on fluctuating variables such as real GDP growth, inflation, and exchange rates. The majority of Americans already think China is the world's leading economic power.

Gallup's data reveal Chinese are more optimistic about their local economy than Americans are, likely reflecting China's ability to sustain strong GDP growth as the U.S. economy has collapsed and struggled to recover. Their relatively positive attitudes may also reflect the massive stimulus that China undertook in late 2008 and early 2009, which primarily focused on infrastructure and tightening regulations.

Even so, China's economic growth might not be sustainable. China must become less dependent on exports and more on domestic consumption to maintain its economy. A vital requirement for that to happen is creating a vibrant labor market with plenty of good jobs. China currently trails the U.S. on the important metric of providing full-time formal employment for its workforce, but it may be making progress. An estimated 90% of new jobs in China come from the private sector.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 4,000 adults in China and approximately 1,000 adults in the U.S., aged 15 and older, conducted each year from 2007 to 2011. Results for perceptions of the world's leading economic power today are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 2-5, 2011, with a random sample of 1,015 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., 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 ranged from ±2.1 to ±4.1 percentage points. 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 complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

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