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U.S. Gallup Good Jobs Rate Edges Up to 46.4% in October

U.S. Gallup Good Jobs Rate Edges Up to 46.4% in October

by Ben Ryan
U.S. Gallup Good Jobs Rate Edges Up to 46.4% in October

Story Highlights

  • GGJ rate highest recorded for any October
  • Unemployment tied for lowest in Gallup's trend, at 5.1%
  • Workforce participation rose to 68.4%

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Gallup Good Jobs (GGJ) rate in the U.S. was 46.4% in October. This is up from 45.6% in September and higher than any GGJ rate recorded for the month of October since Gallup began tracking this measure in 2010.


The GGJ rate declining from the record-high 47.1% in July -- but rising from last month's 45.6% -- is in line with typical seasonal patterns. GGJ typically peaks in June and July with summer employment and then drops in the fall, with a limited uptick in October.

The latest results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with 30,462 U.S. adults, conducted Oct. 1-31 by landline telephone and cellphone. 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, who work fewer than 30 hours per week, who are unemployed or who 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. 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.

Since January 2010, GGJ has generally trended upward, apart from the period spanning November 2012 to April 2014 when the measure registered year-over-year decreases. Since May 2014, the GGJ rate has once again registered year-over-year increases almost every month.


Workforce Participation Rises to 68.4% in October

The percentage of U.S. adults who participated in the workforce in October in any capacity -- by working full time, working part time, or not working but actively seeking and being available for work -- was 68.4%, up almost a full percentage point from 67.5% in September.


Unemployment Rate is 5.1%, Tied for Lowest in Gallup Trend

Gallup's unadjusted U.S. unemployment rate in October was 5.1%, down from 5.4% in September and tied for the lowest reading since Gallup began tracking it in 2010.

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.


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 Steady at 12.7%

Gallup's measure of underemployment in October was 12.7%, down nominally from 12.9% in September but statistically unchanged. However, this October underemployment rate ties the rate from July as the lowest Gallup has recorded to date.

Gallup's U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed (5.1%) with those who are working part time but desire full-time work (7.6%). Underemployment was roughly 20% when Gallup started measuring it in January 2010.


Bottom Line

Gallup's Good Jobs measure in October 2016 was the highest in any October since Gallup began tracking it in 2010. That continues the trend seen over the past 12 months, as the GGJ rate has hit a new high each month since November 2015 compared with the same month a year prior in Gallup's trend. That includes the high point across all months of 47.1% in July.

More broadly, full-time employment for an employer has grown year-over-year since May 2014, following a year and a half of mostly negative growth. At the same time, the workforce participation rate has picked up somewhat, even as unemployment -- which is part of the workforce participation rate -- has slowly declined.

Taken together, these trends demonstrate strength in the U.S. labor market. Even so, after the last presidential election in 2012, year-over-year growth in the GGJ rate came to an end and languished for upward of a year. The coming months will show whether 2016 repeats or improves upon that history.

The data in this article are available in Gallup Analytics.

Gallup's U.S. Employment Measures, October 2016
Most recent month (October 2016) Previous month (September 2016) Month a year ago (October 2015)
Employed full time for employer (GGJ)* 46.4% 45.6% 45.3%
Employed full time for self* 5.7% 5.7% 5.7%
Workforce participation rate* 68.4% 67.5% 67.7%
Unemployment rate ** 5.1% 5.4% 5.6%
Employed part time, wanting full time** 7.6% 7.5% 8.2%
Underemployment rate** 12.7% 12.9% 13.8%
*Metrics represent percentages of the population aged 18 or older who have a job or are actively seeking work. **Metrics represent percentages of the workforce
Gallup Daily Tracking

How Gallup's Employment Measures Differ From the U.S. Government's Measures
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 and 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 Oct. 1-31, 2016, on the Gallup Daily tracking, with a random sample of 30,462 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.

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