U.S. Gallup Good Jobs Rate Steady in September

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The FINANCIAL — The U.S. Gallup Good Jobs rate was 45.3% in September. This is the same as the rate measured in August, and the highest Gallup has measured for any September since tracking began in 2010.

The Gallup Good Jobs metric — previously labeled “Payroll to Population,” or “P2P” — tracks the percentage of the U.S. adult population aged 18 and older who work for an employer for at least 30 hours per week. Gallup Good Jobs is not seasonally adjusted.

The latest results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with 29,389 Americans, conducted Sept. 1-30 by landline telephone and cellphone. Gallup does not count adults who are self-employed, work fewer than 30 hours per week, are unemployed or are out of the workforce as payroll-employed in the Gallup Good Jobs metric.

The Gallup Good Jobs rate has declined every September from the level measured in August since Gallup began tracking employment in 2010. The fact that the rate did not decline this past month represents a small diversion from seasonal trends in the direction of higher full-time employment.

Workforce Participation at 67.5% in September

The percentage of U.S. adults participating in the workforce in September was 67.5%. This is up from the rate measured in August 2015 (66.9%) and in September of last year (67.2%). Since January 2010, the workforce participation rate has remained in a narrow range, from a low of 65.8% to a high of 68.5%. But since mid-2013, it has typically remained below 67.0%. Workforce participation is defined as the percentage of adults aged 18 and older who are working, or who are not working but are actively looking for work and are available for employment.

The increase in workforce participation in September 2015 coincides with Gallup’s decision to include more cellphone-only respondents in the U.S. beginning Sept. 1. This should give slightly more weight to younger respondents, who are more likely to not use landline phones. Most of the seasonal decrease in workforce participation in the fall is from younger Americans ending summer jobs, and weighting these respondents more heavily should actually push the participation rate down. That it has risen in spite of this sample adjustment only strengthens the case that workforce participation had a strong showing this past month.

Unemployment Steady at 6.3%

Gallup’s unadjusted U.S. unemployment rate was 6.3% in September, steady with August’s 6.3% and down three-tenths of a percentage point from the rate measured in September 2014. After years of gradual decline, Gallup’s unemployment measurement has not substantially changed from the rate measured a year ago, apart from a temporary seasonal spike in January. 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, for an employer or 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 report are percentages within the labor force. While both Gallup and BLS data are based on surveys with very 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 employment numbers strongly correlate with BLS rates, the BLS and Gallup estimates of unemployment do not always track precisely on a monthly basis.

Underemployment Down to 14.1%

Gallup’s measure of underemployment in September was 14.1%, down 0.4 points from August. This rate is lower than for any month since Gallup began tracking it daily in 2010. Gallup’s U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed (6.3%) and those who are working part time but desire full-time work (7.8%).

Bottom Line

The full-time payroll employment rate, otherwise known as Gallup Good Jobs, marked another record this past month with the highest rate measured in any September since Gallup started employment tracking in 2010. So far in 2015, every month except April has seen the highest Gallup Good Jobs rate for that month since Gallup began recording. If this trend holds over the next few months, 2015 will mark the second year in a row with this rate ending higher than it started.


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