The vast majority of Americans think this is a bad time to find a quality job. It’s been that way since early 2008 when the number first touched 70%.

Please consider Recession or Not, U.S. Job Market Woes Persist.

Even as Wall Street rallies on the National Bureau of Economic Research announcement that the recession ended in June 2009, Gallup finds — more than a year later — that 88% of Americans believe now is a bad time to find a quality job.

Here’s the question: “Thinking about the job situation in America today, would you say now is a good time or a bad time to find a quality job?”

The percentage of Americans holding these views about finding a quality job is as high now as it was a year ago, and higher than it was at this time in 2008, when the recession was fully underway.

Unemployment Rate Increasing

The unemployment rate component of Gallup’s underemployment measure continues to rise, with the latest 30-day average hitting 9.7% (not seasonally adjusted) on Tuesday, Sept. 20 — up from 9.4% last week, 9.3% in August, and 8.9% at the end of July.

Underemployment was also up during this period, reaching 18.8% on Sept. 20 — increasing from 18.6% readings last week and in August, and 18.4% at the end of July.

Flawed Binary Choices

Unfortunately we do not have a real measure of changes over time in regards to how hard it is to find a quality job because the question only offered a binary choice.

A far better question would have allowed a range of options such as …

  • Very good time
  • Good time
  • Neither good nor bad time
  • Bad time
  • Very bad time

The flaw helps explains the virtual flatline starting in late 2008. Nonetheless, the answers are not encouraging and the overall response certainly does not suggest consumers are about to go on a spending spree.

Unemployment Ticks Higher

One reason Gallup’s unemployment numbers vary from the BLS numbers is the latter seasonally adjusts numbers while Gallup does not. This is not a flaw, but it does make comparisons difficult. Another reason the numbers may differ is the BLS excludes those who want a job but have not looked for one. This is an arguable flaw in the reported BLS number.

Furthermore, it would be far more helpful if Gallup posted numbers from a year ago for comparison purposes. Nonetheless, rising numbers are consistent with the vast majority of economic headlines as well as the Fed’s panic unemployment statement on jobs as translated in Reading Between The Lies.

I expect to see unemployment make news highs later this year or next. That’s when panic statements are likely to translate into panic actions.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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