American EconomyPollingUnemployment Rate

Poll Watch: Unemployment Stagnant in May

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According to the latest Gallup Poll.
Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, stood at 9.2% at the end of May — unchanged from mid-May and down slightly from 9.4% at the end of April. It is also slightly lower than it was at the same time last year (9.5%

And, the graph of Americans working part-time and wanting full-time work – also unchanged in May.

Then, there is the underemployment rate:

Underemployment — which includes both part-time workers wanting full-time employment and the unemployed — has remained flat since mid-March. Underemployment was 19.2% at the end of May, unchanged from 19.3% a month ago and 19.1% a year ago.

The graph:


But, job seekers are no more hopeful about finding work as compared with a year ago.

Job seekers’ attitudes mirror Gallup’s stagnant employment data. In May, 46% of the underemployed reported being hopeful they would find work in the next four weeks. This number is identical to the 46% reporting hope in May 2010. Hope among the unemployed was 53% in both May 2010 and May 2011. Part-timers continue to be more pessimistic than the unemployed about the potential to find work in the next four weeks (40% in 2010 vs. 41% in 2011).

The graph:

So, what does this all mean?

With the GOP Presidential candidates announcing their runs for the White House today and over the next few weeks, President Obama cannot claim improvement in unemployment. He cannot claim a better economy as unemployment remains stagnant.

With unemployment remaining high, historically, it will be more difficult for the President to make the case for re-election.

Gallup’s measures of unemployment and underemployment are little changed in comparison with May 2010. Year-to-year comparisons provide the clearest picture of true changes in the rates because of seasonal variation in employment. Gallup data have seen some significant year-to-year declines in unemployment and underemployment in 2011, but not the consistent pattern of significant decline seen in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, in both unemployment and U-6.

Gallup’s data seem to indicate that despite unemployment declines reported by the government, the American workforce has yet to feel a stable improvement in the jobs climate.

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