skip to main content
U.S. Payroll to Population Rate Improves in December

U.S. Payroll to Population Rate Improves in December

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P), as measured by Gallup, was 44.4% for the month of December, a slight improvement over 43.7% in November. The current P2P rate still does not match the levels of employment seen in July through October, which exceeded 45% and were the highest since Gallup began tracking P2P in January 2010.

U.S. payroll to population employment rates.gif

Gallup's P2P metric is an estimate of the percentage of the U.S. adult population aged 18 and older who are employed full time by an employer for at least 30 hours per week. P2P is not seasonally adjusted.

These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews, conducted by landline and cell phone, with more than 27,000 Americans throughout December. Gallup does not count adults who are self-employed, working part time, unemployed, or out of the workforce as payroll-employed in the P2P metric.

Because of seasonal fluctuations, year-over-year comparisons are helpful in determining how much of the monthly changes are the result of seasonal hiring patterns and growth in permanent full-time positions. December's P2P measure was up 0.6 percentage points over the 43.6% from December 2011.

Seasonally Unadjusted Unemployment Little Changed Over November

Unlike Gallup's P2P rate, which is a percentage of the total population, traditional employment metrics, such as the unemployment rates Gallup and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, are based on the percentage of the workforce. The "workforce" is defined as adults who are working or actively looking and available for employment. December's workforce participate rate was 66.8%, a slight decline over November 2012 (67.2%) and December 2011 (67.1%).

Gallup's seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for the U.S. workforce was 7.7% for the month of December, statistically unchanged from 7.8% at the end of November. Gallup's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 7.9%, a 0.4-point decline over November. Gallup calculates a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate by applying the adjustment factor the government used for the same month in the previous year. Last year, the government adjusted December up by 0.2 points.

Gallup adjusted and unadjusted unemployment rate trend.gif

Underemployment, as measured without seasonal adjustment, was 17.1% in December, unchanged from 17.2% at the end of November. Still, underemployment improved more than a point over December of 2011, when the rate was 18.3%.

Gallup's U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed with the percentage of those working part time but looking for full-time work.

Gallup U.S. underemployment rate.gif

The percentage of workers working part time but wanting full-time work was unchanged in December, at 9.4%, down slightly from the same month in 2011. Compared with this time last year, the percentage of workers desiring additional work is down 0.4 points.

Percentage of U.S. workers working part time but wanting full-time work.gif


Gallup's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate -- the closest comparison it has to the official numbers the BLS released -- declined in December to 7.9%, suggesting that the BLS may report a slight decline in unemployment when it releases its number Friday. Adjustment factors the BLS applies take into account seasonal fluctuations in hiring such as extra hiring by retailers during the holiday season.

December's increase in P2P and decline in seasonally adjusted unemployment is a positive change after a sharp deterioration in these metrics in November. However, after promising growth during the summer and early fall, it is apparent that the employment situation continues to remain fragile. Employers' uncertainty about the fiscal cliff and the economy's future state may have resulted in reluctance to hire additional workers. Superstorm Sandy may have also resulted in a temporary reduction of jobs on the East coast, and seasonal shopping that that consumers increasingly do online may mean that retailers need to hire fewer seasonal employees.

There is reason to be optimistic that the employment situation will improve in 2013, however. Lawmakers reached an agreement on the fiscal cliff, easing some of the economic uncertainty since the presidential election. The housing market is also on the rebound, which could increase consumer confidence and add jobs to the housing sector. In light of these positive signs, employers may be more willing to add jobs in the coming months.

Gallup unemployment measures.gif 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, Job Creation, Consumer Spending
Weekly: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending

Read more about Gallup's economic measures.

View our economic release schedule.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup Daily tracking survey Dec. 1-30, 2012, with a random sample of 27,300 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 ±1 percentage point.

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 cellphone 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. Cellphone 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 (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone 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

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030