Americans May be Seeing Slight Improvement in Local Job Markets

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – February 2, 2012 – In the current political environment the job market continues to be one of the more important topics. And, for the first time in months, Americans are indicating that the job market in their region of the country may be improving, albeit slightly. This month 14% of U.S. adults say that the job market in their region of the country is good, which is up from 9% who said so in October 2011, 11% who said so in September and 12% who said so two months earlier in July 2011. The number of Americans who call the job market in their region bad has also dropped this month, to 65%, down from 67% who said so in October 2011.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,016 adults surveyed online between January 16 and 23, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

    Although these numbers are still low overall, with almost two thirds calling the job market in their region bad (65%) and one in five saying it’s neither good nor bad (21%), a minor increase is important, and may be reflective of real change. Looking across the country it appears that the job markets in the East and South are the best, as 15% and 16% in those regions respectively say that the market there is good, while the Midwest and West may be struggling more-over two thirds in the Midwest (67%) and West (71%) call the job market in their region bad.

    Further evidence that the national job market may be improving is the response seen when Americans were asked how they think the job market in their region will change over the next 6 months. For the first time since March 2011 more people say that the job market in their region will be better-27% say so now, compared to 22% in July. While this number shows an increase, it’s still lower than the three in ten who expected the job market to improve when asked during the first half of 2011 (30%-32% said so between January and May 2011).

    Looking by political party there are stark differences in attitudes regarding the future of the job market-Democrats show significantly more optimism than do either Independents or Republicans. Fully two in five Democrats expect that the job market will improve over the next 6 months (41%) compared to 24% of Independents and only 14% of Republicans who say the same. Republicans and Independents are most likely to say that they think the job market will stay the same (56% and 55%).

    This optimism about the job market may be related to perceived blame for the state of the economy. When asked how much each of the following groups are to blame for their financial situation, a large majority of Republicans (84%) and over half of Independents (55%) say they blame the President. This compares to fewer than one third of Democrats who say the same (30%). When asked about other groups’ blame for the current financial situation some of the results include:

    • Large majorities of Americans say they blame Congress (81%) and Wall Street (70%) for their financial situation;
    • Two thirds say they blame large corporations (66%), fewer say they blame state government (62%) or the President (56%) and less than half say they blame local government (48%).

    Similarly to how partisan differences may account for how much someone blames the President for their financial situation, Democrats are also significantly less likely than both Republicans and Independents to give President Obama negative ratings on his handling of the economy. Overall one quarter of Americans say President Obama’s handling of the economy is excellent or very good (25%) while three quarters say it is only fair or poor (75%). These numbers are unchanged since last month despite the other improvements seen in perceptions of the job market.

    So What?

    The economy and political approval ratings are inexplicably tied. While President Obama continues to struggle with his approval ratings, it seems that Americans’ perceptions of the job market have improved slightly. If these feelings continue, President Obama and his campaign team would do well to link themselves to the improved sentiment. If the feelings do not improve, or do not improve enough, the President’s Republican opposition will surely try to take advantage of the dissatisfaction.

     

    TABLE 1

    RATING OF CURRENT JOB MARKET – TREND

    How would you rate the current job market of your region of the nation?

    Base: All adults

    2008

    2009

    June

    July

    Jan

    April

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    28

    30

    6

    12

    9

    8

    10

    10

    8

    9

    Neither good nor bad

    18

    19

    18

    20

    19

    21

    22

    20

    18

    19

    BAD (NET)

    53

    51

    76

    68

    72

    71

    68

    70

    73

    72

    2010

    Jan

    Mar.

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    10

    8

    10

    12

    10

    12

    10

    13

    11

    13

    Neither good nor bad

    20

    18

    21

    20

    25

    22

    21

    21

    23

    24

    BAD (NET)

    70

    73

    70

    68

    66

    66

    69

    66

    66

    63

    2011

    2012

    Jan

    Feb

    March

    May

    July

    Sept

    Oct

    Jan

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    13

    15

    13

    16

    12

    11

    9

    14

    Neither good nor bad

    22

    24

    22

    23

    24

    22

    24

    21

    BAD (NET)

    65

    61

    65

    61

    64

    67

    67

    65

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    TABLE 2

    RATING OF CURRENT JOB MARKET IN YOUR REGION – BY REGION

    How would you rate the current job market of your region of the nation?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Region

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    14

    15

    11

    16

    12

    Very good

    1

    1

    1

    2

    1

    Somewhat good

    12

    14

    10

    15

    10

    Neither good nor bad

    21

    22

    22

    23

    18

    BAD (NET)

    65

    63

    67

    60

    71

    Somewhat bad

    37

    34

    41

    34

    41

    Very bad

    28

    30

    26

    27

    30

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding; indicates less than .05%

     

     

    TABLE 3

    EXPECTATIONS FOR JOB MARKET IN SIX MONTHS – TREND

    How do you think that the job market in your region of the nation will change over the next 6 months?

    Base: All adults

    2009

    2010

    Jan

    April

    June

    Aug

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    BETTER (NET)

    15

    23

    21

    28

    26

    23

    21

    23

    30

    25

    Will be much better

    1

    3

    2

    2

    1

    2

    2

    3

    2

    2

    Will be somewhat better

    14

    20

    19

    26

    25

    21

    19

    20

    28

    23

    Will remain the same

    36

    42

    47

    47

    53

    49

    53

    53

    50

    54

    WORSE (NET)

    49

    36

    32

    25

    21

    27

    26

    24

    21

    22

    Will be somewhat worse

    36

    29

    24

    19

    15

    22

    20

    18

    15

    16

    Will be much worse

    14

    7

    8

    6

    6

    5

    6

    6

    6

    6

    2011

    2012

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    May

    July

    Jan

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    BETTER (NET)

    31

    31

    32

    30

    22

    27

    Will be much better

    4

    4

    2

    4

    2

    2

    Will be somewhat better

    26

    27

    30

    26

    20

    25

    Will remain the same

    51

    51

    52

    49

    53

    53

    WORSE (NET)

    18

    18

    16

    21

    25

    21

    Will be somewhat worse

    13

    13

    11

    14

    17

    14

    Will be much worse

    6

    5

    6

    7

    8

    7

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    TABLE 4

    EXPECTATIONS FOR JOB MARKET IN SIX MONTHS – BY POLITICAL PARTY

    How do you think that the job market in your region of the nation will change over the next 6 months?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    BETTER (NET)

    27

    14

    41

    24

    Will be much better

    2

    1

    4

     

    Will be somewhat better

    25

    13

    37

    24

    Will remain the same

    53

    56

    47

    55

    WORSE (NET)

    21

    30

    12

    21

    Will be somewhat worse

    14

    22

    8

    12

    Will be much worse

    7

    8

    4

    8

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 5

    BLAME FOR PERSONAL FINANCIAL SITUATION

    How much do you blame each of the following groups or individuals for your financial situation?

    Base: All adults

     

    BLAME

    (NET)

    A great

    deal

    Somewhat

    DO NOT

    BLAME

    (NET)

    Not very

    much

    Not

    at all

    Congress

    %

    81

    46

    36

    19

    10

    9

    Wall Street

    %

    70

    43

    27

    30

    16

    14

    Large corporations

    %

    66

    36

    30

    34

    19

    15

    State government

    %

    62

    23

    39

    38

    25

    13

    The President

    %

    56

    29

    27

    44

    24

    21

    Local government

    %

    48

    15

    32

    52

    33

    20

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 6

    BLAME FOR PERSONAL FINANCIAL SITUATION – BY GENERATION AND POLITICAL PARTY

    How much do you blame each of the following groups or individuals for your financial situation?

    Percent saying A great deal/somewhat blame

    Base: All adults

     

    2009

    2012

    Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Congress

    72

    81

    80

    84

    83

    Wall Street

    71

    70

    56

    79

    73

    Large corporations

    63

    66

    49

    78

    67

    State government

    60

    62

    60

    66

    60

    The President

    47

    56

    84

    30

    55

    Local government

    47

    48

    46

    49

    47

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 7

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – TREND

    Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?

    Base: All adults

    2009

    March

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    47

    49

    46

    43

    39

    40

    34

    36

    Excellent

    13

    13

    10

    3

    9

    7

    6

    6

    Pretty good

    34

    36

    36

    34

    31

    33

    27

    30

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    53

    51

    54

    57

    61

    60

    66

    64

    Only fair

    30

    27

    30

    27

    25

    27

    30

    30

    Poor

    23

    24

    24

    30

    36

    33

    37

    34

    2010

    Jan

    Mar

    Apr

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    31

    32

    33

    36

    32

    32

    29

    27

    31

    30

    Excellent

    5

    5

    6

    6

    5

    6

    5

    5

    5

    5

    Pretty good

    25

    27

    27

    30

    27

    26

    24

    22

    26

    25

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    69

    68

    67

    64

    68

    68

    71

    73

    69

    70

    Only fair

    31

    30

    31

    29

    32

    29

    31

    33

    30

    34

    Poor

    39

    37

    36

    34

    37

    39

    40

    39

    39

    36

    2011

    2012

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    May

    June

    July

    Sept.

    Oct.

    Nov.

    Dec.

    Jan.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    33

    33

    33

    32

    27

    26

    21

    23

    22

    25

    25

    Excellent

    7

    9

    5

    7

    5

    3

    2

    3

    3

    4

    2

    Pretty good

    26

    24

    28

    26

    22

    23

    18

    20

    20

    22

    22

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    67

    62

    67

    68

    73

    74

    79

    77

    78

    75

    75

    Only fair

    30

    22

    29

    28

    30

    33

    33

    36

    32

    34

    34

    Poor

    37

    39

    38

    40

    43

    41

    46

    41

    46

    41

    41

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; In February Not at all sure was offered as a response choice and 4% responded in that way.

     

     

     


     

     

    TABLE 8

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – BY POLITICAL PARTY

    Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Political Party

    Philosophy

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    25

    4

    47

    22

    8

    27

    45

    Excellent

    2

    6

    1

    1

    3

    5

    Pretty good

    22

    4

    42

    21

    8

    24

    40

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    75

    96

    53

    78

    92

    73

    55

    Only fair

    34

    20

    40

    37

    19

    42

    40

    Poor

    41

    76

    12

    41

    72

    31

    15

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; indicates less than .05%

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 16 and 23, 2012 among 2,016 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

     

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J41215

    Q705, 720, 725, 730

     

     

    The Harris Poll® #13, February 2, 2012

    By Samantha Braverman, Sr. Project Researcher, Harris Interactive

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.