Americans More Optimistic About Job Market in September

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The FINANCIAL — The percentage of Americans feeling positive about the U.S. job market — saying now is a “good time” to find a quality job — jumped six percentage points in the past month to 45%, restoring this figure to the seven-year high it reached in January.

The latest figure is one of the highest Gallup has recorded since it began tracking the question in 2001. Americans were the most optimistic in January 2007, when 48% said it was a good time to find a quality job. As the recession took hold, optimism for the U.S. job market dropped sharply, and remained in a slump around the 10% mark from 2009 to 2011. The percentage of Americans who said it was a good time to find a job gradually increased in late 2012 and remained on an upward path until January of this year. The index then slumped through August, but has now returned to the January level.

This month’s six-point increase is the largest increase of the year so far. Despite this spike in optimism, slightly more than half of Americans (51%) continue to say it is a “bad time” to find a job.

These data are from a Sept. 9-13 Gallup poll. In the week prior to the field period, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an increase of 173,000 jobs in August and a decrease in the unemployment rate to 5.1%.

Gallup has previously found that Americans’ perceptions of the job market’s health correlate with their political identification and whether their party occupies the White House. As has been the case since Democratic President Barack Obama took office, Americans who identify as or lean Democratic are a great deal more likely to say it is a good time to find a job (55%) than those who identify as or lean Republican (38%).

Americans who are currently employed are more positive about job conditions: 49% say it is a good time to find a quality job, compared with 40% of those who are not currently working.

Additionally, job market optimism is higher among younger adults than among older adults, with 54% of adults younger than 30 saying it is a good time to find a job, compared with 37% of those aged 65 and older.

Bottom Line

Americans’ improved perceptions of the job market in September come as U.S. workers’ perceptions of job creation in their own places of employment continue to be the most positive since 2008. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ unemployment rate is the lowest rate since 2008.

The increase in positive perceptions among Americans about the job market since August are not, however, reflected in their views of U.S. economic health at large, with economic confidence currently running about -14, compared with -13 in all of August.

 

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