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Americans' View of Job Market Hits New High
Economy

Americans' View of Job Market Hits New High

Americans' View of Job Market Hits New High

Story Highlights

  • Over 7 in 10 Americans feel positively about the U.S. job market
  • Employment optimism among workforce is highest since 2000
  • Majorities of Americans rate economy positively and say it's improving

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' confidence in the U.S. job market is the highest in Gallup's trend originating in 2001, with 71% in May saying now is a good time to find a quality job. This represents a significant improvement from March and April, when 65% each month rated the job market favorably. Today's level is similar to February's 69% reading.

Line graph. Americans’ perceptions of the U.S. job market since January 2018.

The latest survey was conducted May 1-12, with most of the interviews collected after the May 3 Labor Department report announcing that unemployment in April had fallen to 3.6%, the lowest in nearly 50 years.

Gallup's national adult trend on this question started in August 2001, when 39% rated the job market favorably. This was at a time of rising unemployment amid the 2001 recession. However, even after that economic downturn, the figure remained subdued for the next 16 years, including dips below 10% at points in 2009, 2010 and 2011, when unemployment was especially high.

Optimism about the job market rose fairly steadily after 2011, in line with improvements in the unemployment rate. More recently, the percentage of Americans viewing the job market positively first surpassed 60% in September 2017 and averaged 65% in 2018.

Worker Job Perceptions Also Strong

A pre-2001 comparison is possible using data collected by the University of Connecticut and Rutgers University, which asked the same question but only among those in the U.S. workforce (those who are employed or who are unemployed and looking for work) rather than of all Americans. The Connecticut/Rutgers U.S. workforce trend originates in 1998, a few years earlier than the Gallup national adult trend.

As Gallup has found, historically, those in the workforce are a bit more positive today about the job market than are all U.S. adults: 74% vs. 71%, respectively, say now is a good time to find a quality job. That 74% of workers rating the job market positively is also the highest in Gallup's trend since 2001, but it is not quite as high as the 76% and 78% readings found in 2000 by Connecticut and Rutgers.

Economic Ratings Remain in Positive Holding Pattern

Americans' broader perceptions of the U.S. economy in May are similar to what Gallup has found over much of the past year, including in March and April.

  • 51% of Americans rate current economic conditions as excellent or good, essentially unchanged from last month's 50%.

  • Just over half of U.S. adults, 54%, say economic conditions are getting better. This is up from 49% in April, but nearly identical to February and March.

Both metrics have been fairly steady over the past year, except for a dip in confidence around the time of the federal government shutdown, in December and January.

Line graph. Americans’ positive evaluations of current economic conditions have ranged from 43% to 57% since 2018 began.
Line graph. The percentage of Americans saying the economy is getting better has ranged from 44% to 57% since 2018 began.

The longer-term picture shows that Americans' positive perceptions of both the economy and the job market are substantially improved today over the prior decade, particularly from 2008 through 2011, as the country was entering and then recovering from the recession and global financial crisis.

Notably, perceptions that the job market is good have improved more sharply than overall perceptions that the economy is in excellent or good shape, suggesting that other aspects of the economy are more troublesome in Americans' minds, perhaps involving wage growth or trade -- issues that continue to garner media attention.

Line graph. Americans' perceptions of the U.S. job market and economy since 2001.

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