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U.S. Payroll to Population Rate Falls Further in February

U.S. Payroll to Population Rate Falls Further in February

Gallup's U.S. unemployment rate, without seasonal adjustment, increases to 8.0%

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P), as measured by Gallup, was 43.3% for the month of February, down from 43.6% in January. This also reflects a decline from the 43.6% P2P rate of February 2012, and is the lowest P2P rate since April 2011's 43.3%.

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 with more than 26,000 Americans conducted Feb. 1-28 by landline and cellphone. Gallup does not include 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 the degree to which monthly changes are due to seasonal hiring patterns versus the result of growth in permanent full-time positions. That the February 2013 P2P rate is slightly lower than the February 2012 rate indicates that there has been no growth in full-time jobs with an employer over the past year.

Seasonally Unadjusted Unemployment Increases in February

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 report, are based on the percentage of the workforce. Gallup defines the "workforce" as adults who are working or actively looking for work and available for employment. February's workforce participation rate was 67.8%, down slightly from 68.1% in January, but similar to the 67.7% of February 2012.

Gallup's unadjusted employment rate for the U.S. workforce was 8.0% for the month of February, a slight uptick from 7.8% in January, but down markedly from 9.1% in February 2012.

Gallup's seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate for February was 7.6%, a modest increase from 7.3% in January, but down a full percentage point from February 2012. Gallup calculates a seasonally adjusted employment rate by applying the adjustment factor the government used for the same month in the previous year. Last year, the government adjusted February's rate downward by 0.4 points.

Gallup Adjusted and Unadjusted Unemployment Rate Trend, January 2011-February 2013

Underemployment, as measured without seasonal adjustment, was 18.1% in February, up from 17.5% in January. Still, this is a full point's improvement over February 2012, when the rate was 19.1%.

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

The percentage of workers working part time but wanting full-time work was 10.1% in February, an increase from 9.6% in January, and the highest rate measured since January 2012.

Percentage of U.S. Workers Working Part Time but Wanting Full-Time Work,\nMonthly Averages


Gallup's seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate -- the closest comparison it has to the official numbers the BLS releases -- increased in February, suggesting that the BLS will not report a decline in unemployment when it releases its February number on Friday. However, the unemployment rate as reported by the BLS each month does not always track precisely with the Gallup estimate, in large part due to differences in the adjustment procedure the BLS uses, and because of some differences in the way in which data are obtained.

The year-over-year decline in unemployment and stability in the size of the workforce, on the surface, would seem to indicate an improving employment situation. Although fewer people are unemployed now than a year ago, they are not migrating to full-time jobs for an employer. In fact, fewer Americans are working full-time for an employer than were doing so a year ago, and more Americans are working part time. Although part-time work is clearly better than no work at all, these are not the types of good jobs that millions of Americans are still searching for.

Gallup's U.S. Unemployment Measures, February 2013

How Gallup's Unemployment Measure Differs From the U.S. Government's Measure 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 for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 1-28, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 26,517 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the 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 of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphones 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 to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

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

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