December job creation ended 2016 on a steady and strong note with a reading of 33, matching the measure's high since January 2008. After bottoming out in 2009 amid the global financial crisis, U.S. job creation has steadily improved -- surpassing its pre-recession high of +26 in 2014. The index plateaued in 2015 after years of steady gains, but managed to tick higher to its peak of +33 in May 2016. The index has registered this same high score in nearly every month since. All four regions of the country -- the West (+34), South (+33), Midwest (+33) and East (+31) -- ended the year with slightly stronger hiring rates than they had at the start of 2016.
Gallup's Job Creation Index is based on a question that Gallup tracks daily, asking a nationally representative sample of 500 to 600 working adults, aged 18 and older, and reports monthly based on approximately 14,000 interviews. Gallup asks its sample of employed Americans each day whether their companies are hiring new people and expanding the size of their workforces, not changing the size of their workforces, or letting people go and reducing the size of their workforces. The resulting index -- computed on a daily and a weekly basis by subtracting the percentage of employers letting people go from the percentage hiring -- is a real-time indicator of the nation's employment picture across all industry and business sectors. The survey is conducted with respondents contacted on landlines and cellphones.
The hiring and firing trends that are the basis for Gallup's Job Creation Index provide key new insights into the potential future direction of job market conditions. Gallup's Job Creation Index provides information not available in some government indicators. For example, the government's weekly new jobless claims measure only reflects workers filing for benefits, yet not everyone who is laid off files for unemployment. The index may also detect hiring trends days or weeks before they are manifested in the official unemployment rate or other lagging indicators. Gallup has tracked its Job Creation Index daily since January 2008.