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Gallup's Top World Findings of 2015

Story Highlights

  • Job outlooks in the EU, Northern America most optimistic in years
  • Only 5% worldwide have good jobs and are engaged at work
  • Europeans most negative in the world toward immigration

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup in 2015 published its 1,000th story about the attitudes and behaviors of residents in more than 140 countries. Through its World Poll, Gallup systematically tracks and reports on well-being, leadership approval ratings, confidence in national institutions, employment rates and other important issues affecting people's daily lives. The following list includes Gallup editors' picks for some of the most important world discoveries of the year.

  • Real Global Unemployment Is 32%. Of the estimated 3.2 billion adults worldwide who are in the workforce, only 5% are employed full time for an employer and engaged at work -- what Gallup considers a great job. This means about 3 billion people who want a great job don't have one.

  • Huge Gap Persists in Global Jobs. Gallup's Good Jobs employment rate -- the percentage of the total adult population who work at least 30 hours per week for an employer -- remained stagnant worldwide at 26% in 2014. Northern America continued to have the highest percentage of adults working full time for an employer in 2014, at 44%, and sub-Saharan Africa continued to have the lowest regional rate at 11%. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) had the second-lowest rate, at 18%.

  • Job Market Optimism Up Sharply in Northern America, Europe. The job outlooks in the European Union and Northern America in 2014 were the most optimistic they have been since the global economic downturn. Fifty-one percent of residents in Northern America in 2014 said it was a good time to find a job in their local area -- up 13 percentage points from 2013. One in four EU residents said it was a good time to find a job -- up eight points from 2013.

  • Europeans Most Negative Toward Immigration. Before the flow of migrants into Europe reached crisis proportions in 2015, a Gallup study in 142 countries found people in Europe, on average, were the most negative in the world toward immigration. The majority (52%) said immigration levels in their countries should be decreased. In every other major region of the world, people were more likely to want immigration to stay the same or to increase, rather than to decrease.

  • Only 6% of Potential Migrants in Syria Want to Move to the U.S. or Canada. As the conflict in Syria entered its fifth year in January 2015, about half of Syrians (46%) surveyed said they would leave their country given the opportunity. Countries in Europe and the Middle East and North Africa are among the most popular desired destinations; more than one-third of potential Syrian migrants say they would like to move to a country in these two regions. Only 6% of potential migrants in Syria desired to move to Northern America.

  • Russia Receives Lowest Approval in World; U.S. Highest. Russia in 2014 earned the lowest approval ratings globally for the eighth consecutive year and posted the highest disapproval ratings it has received to date. Countries affiliated with the West, particularly NATO countries, soured on Russia dramatically. And, at the same time, Russians and people in many of its former republics all felt much more negatively about the leadership of the U.S., the EU and Germany.

  • Iranians See Nuclear Deal as a Turning Point. Many Iranians are hopeful that the recent nuclear deal will lead to better relations with the West in general and the U.S. in particular. A majority (56%) think the agreement will mark a turning point in relations with the West, and about half (51%) feel it will result in better relations with the U.S. Young Iranians are the most optimistic about relations with the U.S.

  • Nearly 2 Billion Women Worldwide Are Struggling, Suffering. About three in four women worldwide -- or about 2 billion women -- rate their lives negatively enough to be considered "struggling" or "suffering." The life ratings of the rest -- or about 620 million women -- place them in a category of "thriving." These ratings have been remarkably stable for the past several years.

  • Americas Lead Highs, Sub-Saharan Africa Lows in Well-Being. About one in six adults worldwide are considered thriving -- or strong and consistent -- in at least three of the five elements of well-being, as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index in 2014. Residents of the Americas region are the most likely to be thriving in three or more elements (31.3%), while those in sub-Saharan Africa are the least likely (10.2%).

  • Latin Americans Lead World in Emotions. Led by Bolivia and El Salvador, Latin American countries dominated the top of the list of the most emotional countries in the world for 2014. On average, nearly six in 10 residents in each of these countries reported experiencing positive or negative emotions the previous day. Post-Soviet states largely dominated the list of countries at the other end of the spectrum, where at most four in 10 residents reported experiencing any of these feelings.

Read more 2015 findings from Gallup's surveys in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

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