PRINCETON, NJ -- Job market conditions in the United States slid back slightly in February, as Gallup's Job Creation Index fell to +14 from +16 in January. The February score matches those recorded from October through December 2011. However, the reading last month reflects an improvement of two percentage points compared with a year ago (+12 in February 2011).
Hiring Down, Firing Up
The February Job Creation Index of +14 is based on 32% of workers nationwide saying their employers are hiring workers and expanding the size of their workforce, and 18% saying their employers are letting workers go and reducing the size of their workforce. The percentage hiring is down from 33% in January, while the percentage letting go is up from 17%. Both February percentages now match the readings recorded each month in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Job Market Conditions Essentially Flat in All Regions
Job market conditions remain best in the Midwest, with a Job Creation Index of +19, followed by the South, at +16. The index is +12 in the East and +13 in the West. The Midwest has seen the largest year-over-year improvement in the index, a gain of seven points. The index has increased by three points in the South and the West, and two points in the East, since February 2011.
The modest decline in Gallup's Job Creation Index in February is consistent with Gallup's finding that the unemployment situation worsened somewhat last month.
The modest year-over-year improvement in job market conditions is somewhat uneven across the nation. The Midwest has shown substantial improvement, but the other major regions have not. This continues to suggest that manufacturing is having a positive effect on the job market in the middle of the country.
Although Gallup's Job Creation Index suggests a modest deterioration in the job market in February, job creation may be picking up in March, as the Index increased to +17 last week. Whether this weekly change is an aberration or a sign of better things to come is unclear. However, declining consumer confidence and surging gas prices are not encouraging as far as the economy or new hiring is concerned.
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 15,556 employees conducted Feb. 1-29, 2012. 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 sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone 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 by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 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.