• American Economy,  Polling

    Poll Watch: 72% of Americans Cite Economy as Most Important Problem Facting the Country – Obama Calls a News Conference

    According to the latest Gallup poll.

    Seventy-two percent of Americans cite some aspect of the U.S. economy as the “most important problem” facing the country today. This is the highest net mention of the economy since February 2010, although still below the 86% peak recorded in February 2009 as Washington was focused on passing an economic stimulus plan.

    Well, the stock market took a big hit today and gasoline prices are skyrocketing as Middle East events drive the oil markets wild. In the meantime, the Obama White House is ignoring the budget hawks in the GOP dominated House.

    What else could go wrong?


    Economic concerns continue to weigh heavily on Americans’ minds, as evidenced by the issues Americans consider to be the nation’s most important problem. The economy in general and unemployment dominate their economically oriented responses, but mentions of the federal budget deficit and gas prices are up.

    Gallup’s “most important problem” trends suggest that Americans’ top-of-mind concern about gas prices will continue to mount as prices edge higher, but isn’t likely to surge above 20% until prices set a new record, which would be something over $4.11.

    Now, it has just been announced that President Obama will hold a news conference tomorrow afternoon to address rising fuel prices. I wonder if he will pull oil out of the strategic petroleum reserve?

  • American Economy,  Polling

    Poll Watch: Message to the States – Cut Programs, Don’t Tax and Borrow

    There is little doubt in that message in the latest Gallup poll.

    Of seven possible ways to balance their own state’s budget, Americans are most likely to favor cutting back on state programs (65%) and reducing the number of state workers (62%). Floating more bonds (30%) and raising state income or sales taxes (33%) garner the least support, followed by raising business taxes (39%).

    With regards to Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to forgo layoffs of state workers, a bit of a surprise.

    In the nation’s most high-profile budget battle, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has portrayed state worker layoffs as the more draconian option he is trying to avoid by proposing cuts to state employees’ pay, benefits, and collective bargaining. Nevertheless, more Americans favor layoffs than favor pay and benefit cuts, perhaps because the Gallup question doesn’t specify the magnitude of each. While 62% of Americans favor layoffs, fewer than half, 43%, favor cutting state workers’ pay and benefits and 54% are opposed.

    Additionally, the March 3-6 poll finds Americans closely divided on the primary issue in the Wisconsin budget battle — whether to “[change] state laws to limit the bargaining power of state employee unions.” About half of Americans polled, 49%, say they would favor this in their own state; 45% are opposed.

    A late February Gallup poll found 33% of Americans in favor of and 61% opposed to changes to collective bargaining laws when the issue was described as passing a law “that would take away some of the collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the state teachers’ union.” Although the timing of the surveys could be a factor, the differing results likely reflect Americans’ sensitivity to nuances in how the debate can be framed. They may also indicate the high and low boundaries of support for setting new limits on collective bargaining.

    But, whatever, the message is clear to America’s states – don’t tax me BRO.

  • American Economy,  Polling

    Poll Watch: U.S. Economic Optimism Declines

    According to the latest Gallup Poll.

    Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index worsened to -24 in February from -21 the prior month as Americans’ optimism about the U.S. economy receded from a three-year high reached in January.

    Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is based on two questions. One measures consumers’ perceptions of current economic conditions and shows them to be the same in February as in January, with 42% of Americans rating current economic conditions “poor.”

    The second Index component asks Americans to rate the outlook for the U.S. economy. In February, 38% said economic conditions are “getting better,” down from 41% a month earlier. However, this decline follows a January optimism level that tied for the highest since Gallup Daily tracking began in January 2008.

    I do not see any improvement in either economic optimism or the economy in California. I talk to regular folks every week and they are all concerned about the declining job’s base and economic uncertainty.

    I think there was a small bump in perception with Obama and the GOP compromising on the Bush Tax Rates and the payroll tax holiday which is now underway. But, ObamaCare reforms loom, health insurance premiums and gasoline prices are skyrocketing and no new employers are on the horizon.

  • American Economy,  Unemployment Rate

    Poll Watch: Underemployment 21% or Higher In Nine States Including California

    View underemployment data for every state

    Despite the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report today, Gallup raises another issue that may loom as more important – UNDEREMPLOYMENT.

    Underemployed Americans are generally those who are not working to their desired capacity. Gallup considers respondents to be “underemployed” if they are either 1) unemployed or 2) employed part time (under 30 hours per week) and wish to be employed full time. The definition of unemployment used as a component of underemployment closely follows the government’s definition; respondents are “unemployed” if they don’t have a job, and are actively looking for work and are available to begin work. Gallup reports underemployment by state in the following ranges: 9.0%-11.9%, 12.0%-14.9%, 15.0%-17.9%, 18.0%-20.9%, and 21.0%-24.9%.

    The nine states with underemployment rates of 21% or higher were relatively spread out across the country and include the nation’s largest state, California, as well as Michigan and Nevada, which have been hit by downturns in the automotive and gambling industries, respectively. Twenty-two states cluster in the underemployment range of 18% to 20.9%, relatively close to the 18.9% national average.

    Here are the charts:

    So, what does this mean?

    Although the national unemployment rates are marginally decreasing, there is a large population of Americans that are not working enough. This is a measure of the real impact of the job situation and will have political implications – particularly in key battleground states as the campaigns for 2012 begin. Note the states of North Carolina, Nevada, Florida and Michigan are on the highest underemployment list.

    Underemployment is a measure of the real impact of the job situation in the U.S., taking into account as it does workers who are out of and explicitly looking for work, as well as those who may be working part time but would like to work full time. The extent of underemployment in the U.S. varies widely by state, from relatively low levels in the energy states of North Dakota and Wyoming to quite high levels in a number of states, including the nation’s largest, California.

  • American Economy,  Unemployment Rate

    U.S. Employment Rate Drops to 8.9%, 192,000 Jobs Added – Spinning the Numbers?

    6xgjxgzyxeym7aup4ygxg24 Poll Watch: U.S. Unemployment Increases to 10.3% in February   Jobs Situation Worsens

    My read on the economy is not as optimistic as the unemployment numbers which came out of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics today. I mean, look at Gallup’s numbers that I posted just the other day above.

    Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 192,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in manufacturing, construction, professional and business services, health care, and transportation and warehousing.

    The number of unemployed persons (13.7 million) and the unemployment rate (8.9 percent) changed little in February. The labor force was about unchanged over the month. The jobless rate was down by 0.9 percentage point since November 2010. (See table A-1.)

    Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (8.7 percent), adult women (8.0 percent), teenagers (23.9 percent), whites (8.0 percent), blacks (15.3 percent), and Hispanics (11.6 percent) showed little or no change in February. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.8 percent, not seasonally adjusted. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

    The number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, at 8.3 million, continued to trend down in February and has fallen by 1.2 million over the past 12 months. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 6.0 million and accounted for 43.9 percent of the unemployed. (See tables A-11 and A-12.)

    Both the civilian labor force participation rate, at 64.2 percent, and the employ- ment-population ratio, at 58.4 percent, were unchanged in February. (See table A-1.) The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 8.3 million in February. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)

    In February, 2.7 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, up from 2.5 million a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

    Among the marginally attached, there were 1.0 million discouraged workers in February, a decrease of 184,000 from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.7 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in February had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

    Any improvement is good but the numbers, while the MSM spins them to support the Obama administration and the GOP spinners take credit for their policy changes in the Congress, are still dire.

    The number of unemployed people dipped to 13.7 million, still nearly double the number before the recession began in December 2007.

    This report while encouraging should be read with a grain of salt.

    To cut that in half at this rate (or just to take off 6.5 million), assuming 100K each month to keep up with population growth, we would need 71 months to get unemployment back to its pre-recession level.  And we would need that on a consistent basis, not 36K one month and 192K the next.

  • American Economy,  Polling,  Unemployment Rate

    Poll Watch: U.S. Unemployment Increases to 10.3% in February – Jobs Situation Worsens

    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.

  • American Economy,  economics,  Unemployment Rate

    Unemployment Rises to 9.8 Per Cent – Highest Rate since April 2010

    Matt Drudge is not giving President Obama kind treatment this morning showing his damaged basketball lip with the news that the economy under his Administration continues to struggle.

    The U.S. economy added fewer jobs than expected in November and the unemployment rate rose to its highest level since April, underlining the continued weakness in the labor market 17 months into the recovery.

    Nonfarm payrolls rose by 39,000 last month as private-sector employers added only 50,000 jobs, the Labor Department said Friday. The October number was revised up slightly to show a 172,000 increase from a previous estimate of 151,000.

    The unemployment rate, which is obtained from a separate household survey, unexpectedly rose to 9.8% last month. More than 15 million people who would like to work can’t get a job.

    I would suggest that the Senate Republicans and Obama Administration should speedily agree to a compromise Bush era tax rate/cut bill and give stability to the financial markets.  They can extend them for one year if they wish and revisit the issue.

    But, do SOMETHING for small business, so they can put Americans back to work.