The FINANCIAL -- Gallup's U.S. Job Creation Index returned to its all-time high of +37 in July, a sign that the job market remains strong relative to the past decade. This is one point higher than the index score in June and the third time it has been at +37 in 2017.
The Job Creation Index has been on steady climb since falling to -5 in February 2009 during the Great Recession. Most recently it has averaged +30 or above in each of the past 17 months and has held steady between 36 and 37 for each of the past five months.
Gallup's Job Creation Index is based on employed U.S. adults' reports of whether their employer is hiring workers and expanding the size of its workforce, or letting people go and reducing numbers of employees. Gallup computes the index by subtracting the percentage of those who say their employer is cutting jobs from the percentage who say their employer is adding jobs.
In July, 47% of employees said their company was hiring -- the highest for this index component since Gallup began tracking job creation in January 2008. Meanwhile, 10% of employees said their company was letting workers go, up one point from June. Thirty-nine percent of workers said their employer was not changing the size of its workforce.
The Job Creation Index is a nearly real-time indicator of the nation's employment picture across all industries and business sectors. Gallup's index does not measure the type (full time or part time) or quality of the job gains or losses as reported by workers.
Job Creation Across Regions Remains Stable in July
Job creation has been fairly steady by region over the past month. The South retains the strongest JCI score, at +40, just ahead of the Midwest (+39). The West is at +35 and the East is at +31.
The gap between the highest and lowest region in the nation has been narrowing. In April, the East was the lowest region at +28 and the Midwest was highest at +42, a 14 point disparity. By May, the gap between highest and lowest region had narrowed to 11 points. As of July, the lowest region, the East, is nine points lower than the highest region, the South, currently at +40. The East may be improving in job growth, and there also may be an overall greater stability in job creation nationwide.
Gallup's Job Creation Index has been at or near its highest point over the past five months since Gallup began tracking the measure in 2008. This comes as the U.S. unemployment rate and underemployment in June -- the last month for which government data are available -- remain low. However there may be signs the job market is as good as it is going to get right now. In June, the national unemployment rate ticked up to 4.4%.
For now, economists contemplate whether unemployment rates in the low 4% range are "full employment," in which everyone who wants a job can find one. This does not mean every job is a "good job," however, as the Gallup Good Jobs Rate shows.