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U.S. Gallup Good Jobs Rate Edges Down to 45.6% in September

U.S. Gallup Good Jobs Rate Edges Down to 45.6% in September

by Ben Ryan
Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • GGJ rate fall consistent with historical seasonal trends
  • Unemployment steady at 5.4% in September
  • Workforce participation statistically even at 67.5%

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Gallup Good Jobs (GGJ) rate in the U.S. was 45.6% in September. This is down from the 46.5% measured in August but still higher than any other September rate Gallup has recorded since it began tracking this measurement in 2010. GGJ typically peaks in June and July with summer employment and falls through autumn, so the decline from the record 47.1% in July is in line with typical seasonal patterns.

U.S. Gallup Good Jobs Employment Rates

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 Gallup Good Jobs metric does not take into account factors such as job satisfaction or salary level, and solely reflects full-time employment for an employer. The latest results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with 29,458 U.S. adults, conducted Sept. 1-30 by landline telephone and cellphone. GGJ is not seasonally adjusted.

Gallup first measured the GGJ rate in January 2010, a time of high unemployment (10.9%). At that time, 42.5% of Americans were employed full time by an employer. GGJ fell as low as 41.7% in February 2011 but improved over the next few months. Before this year, the previous high point was 45.7% in October 2012.

Workforce Participation Steady at 67.5% in September

The percentage of U.S. adults in September who participated in the workforce in any capacity -- by working full time, working part time, or not working but actively seeking and being available for work -- was 67.5%, essentially the same as 67.4% in August.

Workforce Participation Rate, 2010-2016

Unemployment at 5.4%

Gallup's unadjusted U.S. unemployment rate in September was 5.4%, steady with August. However, this month's rate is almost a full point below the 6.3% recorded in September 2015, reflecting the better employment situation now compared with a year ago. 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.

Gallup U.S. Unemployment Rate Trend, January 2010-September 2016

Unlike the Gallup Good Jobs rate, which is a percentage of the total population, the unemployment rates that Gallup and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report are percentages of the labor force, defined as those who are working or seeking work. 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 Down at 12.9%

Gallup's measure of underemployment in September was 12.9%, down nominally from 13.2% in August and the second-lowest Gallup has recorded to date. Gallup recorded the low of 12.7% for underemployment in July 2016. Gallup's U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed (5.4%) with those who are working part time but desire full-time work (7.5%). Underemployment was roughly 20% when Gallup started measuring it in January 2010.

Gallup's U.S. Underemployment Rate, Monthly Averages

Bottom Line

July 2016 was a record month for Gallup's employment trends, with the highest GGJ, the lowest unemployment and the lowest underemployment rates recorded since January 2010 when Gallup began consistently measuring these trends. The September numbers are slightly weaker compared with July, but the decline is consistent with normal seasonal patterns. Importantly, GGJ remains higher year-over-year, while unemployment and underemployment are still near their lowest points in more than six years.

The data in this article were generated from Gallup Analytics.

Gallup's U.S. Unemployment Measures, September 2016
  Most recent month (September 2016) Previous month (August 2016) Month a year ago (September 2015)
  % % %
Employed full time for employer (GGJ)* 45.6 46.5 45.3
Employed full time self* 5.7 5.5 5.6
Workforce participation rate* 67.5 67.4 67.5
Unemployment rate** 5.4 5.4 6.3
Employed part time wanting full time** 7.5 7.7 7.8
Underemployment rate** 12.9 13.2 14.1
*Percentages of the U.S. population aged 18 or older who have a job or are actively seeking work. **Percentages of the U.S. workforce.
How Gallup's Unemployment Measure Differs From the U.S. Government's Measure
  Gallup U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Population 18 and older 16 and older
Adjustments Not seasonally adjusted Seasonally adjusted
Sample size 30,000 individuals per month 60,000 households per month
Mode of interview RDD telephone, including cellphones Rotating panel with face-to-face and telephone interviewing
Data collection period Continuous One-week reference period during mid-month
Reporting frequency Daily, weekly and monthly, based on 30-day rolling averages Monthly, based on one-week reference period
Gallup reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in stories. Complete trend data are always available to view in the following charts:

Daily: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending
Weekly: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending

Read more about Gallup's economic measures.

View our economic release schedule.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 1-30, 2016, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 29,458 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 Gallup Daily tracking works.

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