The FINANCIAL -- The Gallup Good Jobs (GGJ) rate in the U.S. was 44.4% in February, down slightly from 44.8% in January. This is also down a bit from February 2016, when the U.S. GGJ rate was 44.6%.
The latest results are based on Gallup U.S. Daily interviews with 28,350 Americans, conducted Feb. 1-28 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 as payroll-employed in the GGJ metric if they are self-employed, work fewer than 30 hours per week, are unemployed or are out of the workforce. 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 when unemployment was still high coming out of the 2007-2009 recession (10.9%). At that time, 42.5% of Americans worked for an employer full time. GGJ fell as low as 41.7% in February 2011, but improved over the next few months. The highest monthly GGJ rate Gallup has measured was 47.1% in July 2016.
The GGJ rate has declined year-over-year in two of the past three months -- December 2016 and February 2017. Since its inception, GGJ has generally trended upward, apart from the period spanning January 2012 to April 2014, when the measure generally registered year-over-year decreases. Since May 2014, the GGJ rate once again has registered year-over-year increases in most months.
Workforce Participation Steady at 67.4% in February
The percentage of U.S. adults who participated in the workforce in February in any capacity -- by working full time, working part time, or not working but actively seeking and being available for work -- was 67.4%. This was unchanged from the rate measured in January but higher than for any February since 2013. While full-time employment for an employer fell 0.4 points, full-time self-employment rose by the same amount.
Unemployment Rate Edges Down to 5.6%
Gallup's unadjusted U.S. unemployment rate in February was 5.6%, down two-tenths of a point from 5.8% in January, but still higher than any month since March 2016. 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 Edges Down to 13.9%
Gallup's measure of underemployment in February was 13.9%, down slightly from 14.1% in January, but still higher than any month since March 2016. Gallup's U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed (5.6%) with those who are working part time but desire full-time work (8.2%). These two figures added to 13.9% in February due to rounding.
The metric has improved considerably since Gallup first measured it in January 2010, when roughly 20% were underemployed.
The Gallup Good Jobs rate has shown year-over-year decreases for the second time in the past three months, a departure from the general upward trend over the past two and a half years. While full-time employment for an employer is generally lowest in the first months of the year, this latest dip may indicate a slight weakening in the full-time job market beyond seasonal patterns.
GGJ usually begins increasing in April, so it is reasonable to expect higher rates of full-time employment in the coming months. However, if GGJ continues to show year-over-year decreases, then workers may start to feel less sanguine about their job security or prospects.