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In U.S., Quality Jobs Outlook Best in More Than Six Years

In U.S., Quality Jobs Outlook Best in More Than Six Years

Thirty-five percent say now is a good time to find a quality job

by Rebecca Riffkin

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than one in three Americans (35%) say now is a good time to find a quality job. While not high on an absolute basis, this percentage is the highest since December 2007, the starting point of the Great Recession. The jobs measure has been improving in the past few months, and increased seven percentage points between June and July alone.

Percentage in U.S. Saying Now Is a Good Time to Find a Quality Job

Gallup first asked this question in August 2001, when 39% of Americans said it was a good time to find a quality job. Gallup has updated it monthly since October of that year; the most recent data come from Gallup's July 7-10 survey.

The average percentage saying it is a good time to find a quality job is 26% since polling began in 2001, depressed by the lower percentages from 2008 to 2011. Prior to the recession, the August 2001-November 2007 average was 34%, similar to July's 35% reading. Optimism about finding a quality job has been as high as 48% in early 2007, before the Great Recession began. Gallup did not measure this trend in earlier periods such as the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, when it could have been even higher. Sentiment sank as low as 8% in late 2009 and again in late 2011.

While Americans are as positive about the job market as they have been in more than six years, the majority of Americans, 61%, continue to say it is a bad time to find a quality job. That has improved, however, from the 70% seen in May 2014 and the 90% in November 2011.

The percentage saying now is a good time to find a quality job has increased at least marginally since June among all major demographic groups Gallup looks at. Currently, 27% of Republicans say now is a good time, compared with 43% of Democrats and 34% of independents.

Is Now a Good Time or a Bad Time to Find a Quality Job? July 2014 results

In July, young Americans, wealthier Americans, Democrats, and those with advanced degrees are the most optimistic groups about finding a quality job. In March, Gallup reported that Democrats have been more positive than Republicans about jobs since President Barack Obama came into office, while Republicans were more positive than Democrats when George W. Bush was in office. While this trend is still true, with a 16-point gap between Democrats and Republicans this month, Americans of all political persuasions have become more optimistic about jobs over the past several months.

The quality jobs measure is just one more indication of an improving job market, along with Gallup's recent updates on employee reports of hiring at their companies. Gallup's latest monthly Payroll to Population rate is 45.0%, near the high of 45.7% found in October 2012.

Bottom Line

The percentage of Americans saying now is a good time to find a quality job is increasing, and has reached levels not seen since the very beginning of the recession. While the percentage is still much lower than what was typically seen in the years right before the recession, the higher percentage is a promising sign for the U.S. economy. There are a host of others as well: the percentage of U.S. adults who are employed, as measured in Gallup's Payroll to Population rate, has been rising. Gallup's Job Creation Index, which measures employee reports of hiring or firing in the companies where they work, has also been increasing and in June held steady at a six-year high. Furthermore, Gallup's 30-day rolling averages of unemployment (6.3%) and underemployment (15.1%) are the lowest Gallup has measured since it began tracking these in 2010.

These positive employment signs are good news for the economy in general; however, if they continue, it may take a while for them to ripple through to consumers and the rest of the U.S. population. Consumer spending dipped slightly in June but may be showing signs of improving in July. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index has been largely steady throughout 2014, but also may be recovering this week after a slight dip last week. But Americans' ability to find good jobs and be hired is important for coming out of the recession and growing the economy again.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 7-10, 2014, with a random sample of 1,013 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, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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 time zone within region. Landline and cellular 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 most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. 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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