Job Market Looking Up — After Bottoming Out: Gallup

Photograph by Ty Wright/Bloomberg

Employees assemble components of a Jeep Cherokee at the Chrysler Toledo Assembly Plant in Ohio on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014.

“I’ve been down so very damn long that it looks like up to me.”
— The Doors

Considering that, just a few years ago, only eight percent of Americans surveyed said it looked like a good time to find a quality job, the 27 percent saying so in the latest survey looks like raging optimism.

Now, 48 percent would have said this — and in fact, did — back at the start of 2007 in the Gallup Poll’s continuing questions about confidence in the job market. Since then, the worst recession since the Great Depression and the financial crisis that prompted federal bailouts of banks, insurers and automakers have cost the nation millions of jobs of all kinds, good and bad.

Now that unemployment is below 7 percent again — 6.7 in the most recent Labor Department accounting — people are finding jobs again. Employment grew by 175,000 last month, a bigger gain than the 129,000 increase in January. The fact that the jobless rate inched up from 6.6 to 6.7 percent is a reflection of more people seeking a place in the workforce.
Trend: Is Now a Good Time to Find a Quality Job?

At Gallup, Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport reports today that the latest trends in confidence about finding a good job must be viewed in the context of past attitudes.

“Wile the current results on this measure are more positive than the recent lows,” Newport writes, “they are far more negative than at times in the past, and continue to reflect Americans’ generally pessimistic views of the U.S. job market.”

And, as in most matters, there is a political component to this:

The nearly 13-year trend on this question clearly reflects changes in the country’s underlying economic reality, but the responses also reflect Americans’ political views. When George W. Bush was president, Republicans were substantially more positive than Democrats were about the job market. Since 2009, with Barack Obama in the White House, Democrats have been more positive.”

Trend: Is Now a Good Time to Find a Quality Job? By Party ID

“The `partisan gap’ in views of the job market has varied over time, Newport notes.

“The difference between Republicans, including Republican-leaning independents, and Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, was particularly pronounced in the latter years of George W. Bush’s presidency. From 2004 to 2007, Republicans were often more than 30 percentage points more likely than Democrats were to say job prospects were good. Partisan differences shrank considerably during the recession, and stayed small during the first three years of Obama’s first term. Democrats’ positive views about the job market edged higher than Republicans’ beginning in August 2009, but never by more than 10 points until 2012.”

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