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Americans' Views of Job Market Hold Steady

Americans' Views of Job Market Hold Steady

Story Highlights

  • In the U.S., 30% say it is a good time to find a quality job
  • Americans are more positive about jobs than in 2009-2011
  • The quality job measure closely tracks changes in unemployment

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Americans' perceptions of the job market are holding steady, with 30% saying now is "a good time to find a quality job," matching the average since August. Although not positive on an absolute basis, that assessment is much brighter than was the case during periods of elevated unemployment from 2009 to 2012, including lows of 8% in November 2009 and November 2011. The high for finding a quality job was 48% in January 2007.

Thinking about the job situation in America today, would you say that it is now a good time or a bad time to find a quality job?

Gallup has asked Americans to evaluate the job market monthly since October 2001, including the current data based on a Nov. 6-9 poll. This attitudinal measure differs from Gallup's tracking of the unemployment and underemployment rates based on respondent self-reports of their employment status and Gallup's Job Creation Index based on worker reports of hiring activity at their places of work. Although those three measures take different approaches to measuring the health of the U.S. job market, they all show a better situation than was the case in the recession and immediate post-recession years.

While Gallup has found a strong partisan influence on Americans' opinions of whether it is a good time to find a quality job, those perceptions are also a reflection of what is going on in the U.S. job market. The quality job measure has shown a strong relationship with changes in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' official unemployment measure, with Americans' perceptions of the job market tending to improve when unemployment is down and to decline when unemployment is up.

Specifically, when the unemployment rate averaged 4.6% in 2006 and 2007, more than four in 10 Americans thought it was a good time to find a quality job. When unemployment hovered around 9% in 2009 through 2011, barely more than one in 10 Americans thought it was a good time to find a quality job. In the last three years, as the unemployment rate has dropped more than two full percentage points, the percentage of Americans believing the job market is good has risen an average of six points per year, to 29% for 2014 to date.

Perceptions of the Job Market and the Unemployment Rate, 2002-2014

Although the unemployment rate and quality job measure are not perfectly correlated, the data suggest perceptions of the job market may improve further once the unemployment rate dips into the mid-5% range, and may surpass 40% believing it is a good time to find a quality job when the unemployment rate drops below 5%.


While Americans are not overly positive about the U.S. job market, they are much more upbeat about it than they were a few years ago when the unemployment rate was around 9%. It may take another one- to two-point reduction in the unemployment rate for Americans' perceptions to approach the highs near 40% that Gallup measured in 2006 and 2007.

The ceiling on the quality jobs measure could reach even higher, as surveys of working Americans conducted by the University of Connecticut and Rutgers University during the dot-com boom in the late 1990s and early 2000 found readings between 69% and 78%.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 6-9, 2014, with a random sample of 828 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.

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.

View complete question responses and trends.

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