US: Gallup Good Jobs Rate

Thu Nov 05 07:30:00 CST 2015

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level 45.3% 45.3%

The Gallup Good Jobs rate (GGJ) was 45.3 percent in October, about the same as the last two months and the highest Gallup has measured for any October since 2012, when the rate was at its 2010-2015 peak of 45.7 percent. The percentage of U.S. adults participating in the workforce in October was 67.7 percent. This was up only slightly from the rate measured in September (67.5 percent) and in October of last year (66.6 percent). Gallup's workforce participation measure averaged 67.7 percent between January 2010 and June 2013, but since then has averaged 66.8 percent. Higher participation rates in the past several months may signal returning strength in the labor market.

Workforce participation increased by 0.6 percentage points from August to September 2015, coinciding with Gallup's decision to include more cellphone interviews in the U.S. beginning September 1. It is not clear to what extent the changes in the sample are influencing changes in workforce participation seen since August. Changes in the sample could increase the number of employed people in Gallup's samples.

Gallup's unadjusted U.S. unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in October, down from September's 6.3 percent and the lowest Gallup has measured since tracking began in January 2010. The previous record low for unemployment was set in December 2014, at 5.8 percent. 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.

Gallup's measure of underemployment in October is 13.8 percent, down 0.3 points from September. This rate is lower than in 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 (5.6 percent) with those who are working part time but desire full-time work (8.2 percent). While unemployment fell in October, the rate of "involuntary part-time" work rose 0.4 points from the 7.8 percent measured in September.

Gallup tracks daily the employment status of the U.S. population and the workforce using a set of questions designed to measure U.S. employment accurately, in accordance with International Conference of Labour Statisticians standards. Based on an individual's responses to the question series (some of which are asked of only a subset of respondents), Gallup classifies respondents into one of six employment categories: employed full time for an employer; employed full time for self; employed part time, but do not want to work full time; employed part time, but want to work full time; unemployed; and out of the workforce.

Payroll to Population is a measure of those who are employed by an employer for at least 30 hours per week, and is calculated as a percentage of the total population.

Underemployed respondents are employed part time, but want to work full time, or are unemployed. Unemployed respondents are those within the underemployed group who are not employed, even for one hour a week, but are available and looking for work. Unemployment and underemployment are calculated as a percentage of the workforce.

Because results are not seasonally adjusted and there are methodological differences in data collection, they are not directly comparable to BLS numbers. However, the two measures are correlated, and Gallup's employment metrics follow the general BLS trend. Gallup reports P2P and underemployment at the state level on a semiannual basis.

Gallup unemployment data -- collected daily since 2010 -- are correlated with unemployment rates reported by the BLS. Gallup's unique Payroll to Population employment measure gives a clear picture of the employment situation for the entire U.S. population, without the complexity of the frequently changing size of the workforce. When U.S. workforce size decreases, unemployment rates can actually improve, even though fewer people are working. In contrast, Payroll to Population declines when fewer people are working full time, and rises when more people find full-time work

Unlike unemployment rates, the P2P percentage provides information about economic energy. For example, increasing retirement rates, such as will happen as those in the U.S. baby boomer generation move through their 60s into their 70s, will result in a lower overall P2P value unless there is an unusually high influx of immigrants. This means fewer people are sustaining the economy or contributing to the tax base. This decline in employment, which goes undetected in traditional employment measures, could have significant consequences. Alternatively, an increase in P2P rates can lead to sustained economic growth.

Additionally, the U.S. government's BLS calculations involve seasonal and other adjustments each month. While valuable, these can mask underlying trends. Traditional unemployment metrics count Americans who are working at least one hour per week as employed. In contrast, Payroll to Population will increase or decrease only if there is a change in the number of Americans working at full-time jobs.