- Highest Gallup Good Jobs rate in any February since 2010
- Seasonally unadjusted unemployment up slightly to 6.2%
- Workforce participation rises four-tenths of a point to 67.2%
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Gallup Good Jobs (GGJ) rate in the U.S. was 44.6% in February. This is nominally down from the January rate (44.7%) but higher than the rate in any February since Gallup began measuring it in 2010. The current rate is 0.7 percentage points higher than in February 2015, suggesting an underlying increase in full-time work beyond seasonal changes in employment.
The GGJ metric tracks the percentage of U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, who work for an employer full time -- at least 30 hours per week. Gallup does not count adults who are self-employed, work fewer than 30 hours per week, are unemployed or are out of the workforce as payroll-employed in the GGJ metric.
The latest results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with 28,383 U.S. adults, conducted Feb. 1-29 by landline telephone and cellphone. GGJ is not seasonally adjusted.
Workforce Participation at 67.2% in February
The percentage of U.S. adults in February who participated in the workforce -- by working full time, working part time or not working but actively seeking and being available for work -- was 67.2%. This is up slightly from the rate in January (66.8%) and higher than the 66.9% average workforce participation rate since June 2013. Before that, from January 2010 to June 2013, it had been almost a point higher, averaging 67.7%.
Unemployment at 6.2%
Gallup's unadjusted U.S. unemployment rate was 6.2% in February, up slightly from January's 5.5%. It is still the lowest rate in any February since Gallup began tracking the measure in 2010, including last year's 6.7%. Gallup's U.S. unemployment rate represents the percentage of adults in the workforce who did not have any paid work in the past seven days, either for an employer or for themselves, and who were actively looking for and available to work. Much of the increase in unemployment in February was matched by rising workforce participation, indicating that many who were unemployed but not previously looking for work may be returning to the workforce.
Unlike Gallup's GGJ rate, which is a percentage of the total population, the unemployment rates that Gallup and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report are percentages of the labor force. While both Gallup and BLS data are based on surveys with large sample sizes, the two have important methodological differences -- outlined at the end of this article. Additionally, the most-discussed unemployment rate released by the BLS each month is seasonally adjusted, while Gallup reports unadjusted numbers. Although Gallup's unemployment numbers strongly correlate with BLS rates, the BLS and Gallup estimates of unemployment do not always track precisely on a monthly basis.
Underemployment Steady at 14.7%
Gallup's measure of underemployment in February was 14.7%, also up slightly from January but in line with the rates since April 2015. Gallup's U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed (6.2%) with those who are working part time but desire full-time work (8.5%).
GGJ is typically near its lowest levels in February of each year, and the rate measured last month was lower than in any of the previous eight months. However, GGJ remains the same or higher year-on-year, as it has each month since May 2014 -- indicating an overall strengthening of full-time labor market conditions.
In the same vein, though unemployment rose by 0.7 points in February, the current rate is still lower than in any previous February since Gallup began measuring it in 2010. Importantly, most of this rise in unemployment is matched by a rise in workforce participation, indicating that the newly unemployed were previously not bothering to look for employment at all. Rather than being a sign of a weaker labor market, this increase in unemployment may actually be a sign of economic optimism.
The data in this article are available in Gallup Analytics.
Gallup.com reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly and monthly averages and in Gallup.com stories. Complete trend data are always available to view in the following charts:
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Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 1-29, 2016, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 28,383 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 ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.