And, underemployment also declined in March.
But, what does this mean? Is America’s economy improving?
Not according to Gallup.
ADP on Wednesday reported that U.S. private-sector jobs increased by 201,000 in March — the third consecutive month at this level of job growth. At the same time, Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed a sharp decline in March U.S. layoffs compared with last year. All of this is consistent with Gallup’s Job Creation Index, which has shown slightly more jobs being created and comparatively low layoffs during the first quarter of 2011.
However, contrary to the federal government’s recent job reports, Gallup’s unemployment and underemployment measures suggest that recent job increases have not been sufficient to significantly improve the jobs situation so far in 2011. Although both of Gallup’s measures were marginally better in March, they remain higher now than they were in January.
The March improvement in the jobs situation compared with February may be partly the result of seasonal hiring patterns, with companies increasing their hiring at this time of year. However, the 2010 jobs situation didn’t show substantial improvement until the second half of April. Regardless, the decline in the underemployment rate year-over-year is consistent with a cautious hiring approach in which employers avoid layoffs while taking on more part-time workers and limiting their hiring of full-time employees.
Despite the March uptick, Gallup’s view of the U.S. jobs situation remains substantially less optimistic than the government’s recent unemployment report might suggest. Added to this, late March Gallup Daily tracking results show a continuing decline in economic optimism, a pullback in consumer spending, and a drop in Gallup’s Job Creation Index. This suggests that recent behavior on Main Street does not reflect the government’s rosier assessment. It also implies that the recent marginal improvement Gallup finds may be more temporary than one might hope.
Looks like the Obama Administration is spinning the numbers to creat some economic optimism but too many Americans remain out of work and economic activity remains stagnant at best.
According to the latest poll numbers from Gallup.
Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, hit 10.3% in February — up from 9.8% at the end of January. The U.S. unemployment rate is now essentially the same as the 10.4% at the end of February 2010.
And, the percentage of part-time workers who desire full-time work has surged.
And, underemployment surged in February:
All in all, a pretty dire picture of the American economy which will have political effects as Republican challengers to President Obama begin to gear up for the Presidential race in 2012.
There is essentially no difference between the unemployment rate now and the one at this time a year ago; January’s rate, in contrast, showed a 1.1-percentage-point year-over-year improvement. This suggests that the real U.S. jobs situation worsened in February. That is, jobs are relatively less available now than in January.
In the broader underemployment picture, the situation is much the same. January’s year-over-year improvement of 1.0 points became -0.2 points in February. In turn, this suggests job market conditions in terms of underemployment also worsened during February.
This deterioration in the jobs situation combined with surging gas prices, budget battles at the federal and state level, and declines on Wall Street tend to explain the recent plunge Gallup recorded in consumer confidence. They also align with the continued “new normal” spending patterns of early 2011. Although Gallup’s Job Creation Index has improved over the past year and showed modest improvement in February, the improvement has not been significant enough to positively affect underemployment and unemployment.
I am not surprised especially with regard to Nevada and California being poor job markets, according to the latest Gallup Poll.
More than half of the 10 best job markets in 2010 were in energy- and commodity-producing states. Most of the 10 states with the worst job markets consisted of finance states of the Northeast and the housing-depressed states of the West.
Having a significant presence of natural resource-based industries was a distinct job-creation advantage for states such as North Dakota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas. These were among the top 10 job markets in 2010, as they were in 2008 and 2009. Also among the top 10 in 2010 were Alaska — another energy state — and Washington, D.C., and Maryland, both of which benefit from having a large percentage of federal government workers. Mostly farm commodity states — including Arkansas, South Dakota, Iowa, and Pennsylvania — fill out the top 10.
What about improvement between 2009 and 2010?
States showing the most improvement in job market conditions between 2009 and 2010 included the long-depressed manufacturing states of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — likely reflecting the significant improvement in U.S. manufacturing last year. Also among the most improved were 5 of the 10 states with the worst job markets in 2009, giving them the most room to improve: Oregon, Delaware, Arizona, Minnesota, along with Michigan. Reflecting the growth of the federal government, the District of Columbia was not only the second-best job market but also the second-most improved job market in 2010.
Eight of the states showing the least improvement last year were in the 10 best job markets in 2009, including New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia, Louisiana, Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. Also among those showing the least improvement are several states in the Northeast — New Jersey, Vermont, and New York — and two smaller states in the West, Montana and Wyoming.
So, what does this mean politically?
It is noted that only two key battleground state in the Electoral College are listed – Nevada and Virginia. The other states are either very blue or very red which means these states in the extreme job markets will be ignored during the race for 2012.
Nevada’s unemployment rate, plus President Obama’s comments about Las Vegas may play well there for the GOP nominee but demographic changes (more Hispanic and union, Clark County voters) if they show up and vote may be too much to overcome.
Virginia is a state where the GOP will need to perform well if they wish to beat President Obama.
The GOP nominee will concentrate their campaign in other states which have poor unemployment numbers.
Gallup’s job creation index and job market conditions portend more of the same for 2011.
Gallup’s Job Creation Index averaged +7 nationwide during 2010, with 28% of employees reporting their companies were hiring and 21% saying their companies were letting people go. Regionally, job market creation was best in the Midwest and South but lagged behind in the East and West.
Looking ahead, it seems likely that the overall pattern of state job market conditions across the nation in 2011 will remain similar to those of the past three years. Energy prices are surging and gas is now $3.29 a gallon nationwide, compared with $2.69 a year ago. High oil prices tend to improve hiring activity in energy-producing states. Similarly, high commodity prices should help job conditions in the farm and mining states.
On the other hand, the housing market continues to suffer. This suggests that states with the worst housing conditions will continue to see relatively difficult job market conditions for some time.
Of course, it is possible that state and federal budget cutbacks could hurt job market conditions in some states more than others, particularly those having the worst budget problems, such as California, New York, and Illinois. Or, federal budget cuts could hurt states with a large number of federal government employees. Alternatively, U.S. manufacturing and exports could continue to increase, providing more jobs in industrial states.
All in all, not a good poll about jobs for the incumbent President and Democratic U.S. Senate incumbents going into election 2012.