According to a Gallup survey released today of Americans’ perceptions of the jobs market, 30% say now is “a good time to find a quality job.” Although not positive on an absolute basis (one-third of those surveyed is low), the current assessment is much brighter than periods of elevated unemployment from 2009 to 2012, including lows of 8% in November 2009 and November 2011. The high for finding a quality job was 48% in January 2007.
Gallup has tracked Americans’ perception of the job market on a monthly basis for the past 13 years. Typically, job market perceptions among the surveyed improve when unemployment is down and to decline when unemployment is up.
For example, when the unemployment rate averaged 4.6% in 2006 and 2007, more than four in 10 Americans thought it was a good time to find a quality job. When unemployment hovered around 9% in 2009 through 2011, barely more than one in 10 Americans thought it was a good time to find a quality job. In the last three years, as the unemployment rate has dropped more than two full percentage points, the percentage of Americans believing the job market is good has risen an average of six points per year, to 29% for 2014 to date.
What this means for the economy
While Americans are not overly positive about the U.S. job market, they are much more upbeat about it than they were a few years ago when the unemployment rate was around 9%. It may take another one- to two-point reduction in the unemployment rate for Americans’ perceptions to approach the highs near 40% measured in 2006 and 2007, says Gallup.
The positive perception could reach even higher, Gallup suggests, noting surveys pre-dating its tracking survey. Opinion research of working Americans conducted by the University of Connecticut and Rutgers University during the dot-com boom in the late 1990s and early 2000 found readings between 69% and 78%.