In one of the most overly optimistic survey results I have ever seen, a Gallup poll shows that slightly over 4 in 10 unemployed expect to get a job within 4 weeks.

To show how eager people are to work, 57% of those unemployed said they would take a job making \$24,000 or less. An additional 20% did not say.

Here are some highlights from Unemployed Americans Face Challenging Job Search

• Despite today’s nearly double-digit unemployment rate, 41% of unemployed Americans expect to get a job in the next four weeks.
• 34% of underemployed have the same expectations with respect to obtaining a full-time job.
• On average, unemployed workers report that they have spent 27 weeks actively looking for a job.
• On average, unemployed workers say they have applied for 45 different jobs, while the underemployed, on average, report applying for 19 different full-time jobs.
• On average, unemployed workers report that they have spent 27 weeks actively looking for a job
• In their previous job, 48% said they were making less than \$24,000 a year. An additional 25% were making \$24,000-\$60,000 a year. 20% did not offer an opinion.
• For their next job, 57% of unemployed would accept a job paying less than \$24,000 a year. An additional 20% would accept a job paying \$24,000-\$60,000 a year. 20% did not offer an opinion.

Survey Methods and Two Key Questions

Unemployed and underemployed results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking from Dec. 21, 2010-Jan. 9, 2011, with a random sample of 15,120 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

Here are the two critical questions:

Asked of Unemployed: Do you think that in the next 4 weeks you will have a job?

Asked of the Underemployed: Do you think that in the next 4 weeks you will have a job that requires you to work 30 hours or more per week, or not?

The questions were perfectly valid and easily understandable. Moreover, 15,120 seems like a decent sample size.

Amazing Optimism

As of December 2010, there were 14.5 million unemployed. There were an additional 8.9 million working part-time for economic reasons.

If 41% of the unemployed got a job in the next 4 weeks, the economy would have to create 5.95 million jobs, either full or part-time.

If 34% of the underemployed got a full-time job in the next 4 weeks, the economy would have to create an additional 3.03 million full-time jobs.

Those expectations are simply not going to happen. This economy will struggle to generate 5.95 million jobs with an additional 3 million full-time jobs in the next 4-5 years (not weeks).

I suspect most of those expecting to find a job quickly were recently unemployed and have no idea what others are going through. It would have been interesting to see how optimism changes over time. Unfortunately, Gallup offered no such breakdown.

However, even with the assumption that most of those expecting to find a job quickly are the recently unemployed, I cannot account for such rampant optimism.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock