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Before Shutdown, Government Workers Saw More Hiring

Before Shutdown, Government Workers Saw More Hiring

Net hiring rose at federal and state levels, slipped among private-sector workers

PRINCETON, NJ -- In the run-up to the U.S. government shutdown and the opening of the federal government's health insurance exchanges, both of which occurred on Oct. 1, federal workers in September saw more hiring at their workplaces than they did in August, with Gallup's Job Creation Index among this group rising to -4 from -12. State government workers also reported more hiring, while perceptions among local government workers were flat.

Trend: Gallup Job Creation Index Among Three Levels of Government Workers

Gallup's Job Creation Index represents employee perceptions of "net hiring" at their workplaces, defined as the percentage saying their employer is hiring minus the percentage saying their employer is letting workers go.

Taken together, net hiring among government workers at all levels increased to +11 in September, up five points. This contrasts with a slight downtick, to +22 from +25, in reported hiring among non-government workers.

Reported hiring remains stronger in the private sector than in the public sector, as it has since mid-2009. However, the margin narrowed to 11 points in September, the smallest in nearly four years, since February 2010.

Trend: Gallup Job Creation Index by Type of Employer -- August 2008 to September 2013

Last month's changes in government and non-government hiring had a nearly neutral net effect on the overall index among all U.S. workers; it registered +21 in September, similar to the +22 in August. This is based on 37% of workers saying their employer was hiring and 16% saying their employer was letting workers go. Forty-one percent saw no change in staffing.

Trend: Job Creation Index Among All U.S. Workers -- January 2008 to September 2013

Bottom Line

Net hiring in the U.S. was stable in September, according to workers' reports of the jobs situation where they work. However, this masks trends in the private and public sectors that largely canceled each other out. Government employees, particularly those working for federal or state governments, saw more hiring at their workplaces in September than in August, while non-government employees witnessed a little less hiring. Whether any of this reflects employers' preparation for vs. anxiety about a freeze on government activities due to the potential shutdown, or about the impending opening of the healthcare exchanges, is not clear. But to the extent it does, now that both have occurred, hiring patterns could shift yet again.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 1-30, 2013, with a random sample of 18,143, aged 18 and older, employed full or part time, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of employed 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 and cell telephone 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, and cellphone mostly). 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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