US: Gallup Good Jobs Rate

Thu Mar 09 07:30:00 CST 2017

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The Gallup Good Jobs (GGJ) rate in the U.S. was 44.4 percent in February, down slightly from 44.8 percent in January. This is also down a bit from February 2016, when the U.S. GGJ rate was 44.6 percent. For perspective, when Gallup first measured the GGJ rate in January 2010 unemployment was still high coming out of the 2007-2009 recession (10.9 percent). GGJ fell as low as 41.7 percent in February 2011, but improved over the next few months. The highest monthly GGJ rate was 47.1 percent in July 2016.

The GGJ rate has declined year-over-year in two of the past three months -- December 2016 and February 2017. Since its inception, GGJ has generally trended upward, apart from the period spanning January 2012 to April 2014, when the measure generally registered year-over-year decreases. Since May 2014, the GGJ rate once again has registered year-over-year increases in most months.

Gallup's unadjusted U.S. unemployment rate in February was 5.6 percent, down two-tenths of a point from 5.8 percent in January, but still higher than any month since March 2016. 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, either for an employer or for themselves, and who were actively looking for and available to work.

Gallup's measure of underemployment in February was 13.9 percent, down slightly from 14.1 percent in January, but still higher than any month since March 2016.

Gallup tracks daily the employment status of the U.S. population and the workforce. Based on an individual's responses to the question series, 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. The data are based on a nationally representative sample of 29,000 interviews, including 18,000 in the workforce. Daily results reflect 30-day rolling averages.

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.