Americans Feel Better About the Job Market

NEW YORK , N.Y. – March 28, 2012 – Over the past several months President Obama’s overall job ratings have been alternately holding steady and inching upward. His ratings on the economy are following suit. This month 32% of Americans give President Obama positive ratings on his handling of the economy while 68% give him negative marks. This is the same as last month, and an improvement from the 25% and 75% who rated him positively and negatively respectively in December and January.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,451 adults surveyed online between March 12 and 19, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

While there is still a concern about unemployment, more Americans say the job market in their region of the country is good (20%) than have said so since July of 2008, when 30% called the job market good. Over the past three and a half years The Harris Poll has regularly asked Americans about the job market in their region of the country. An average of 11% have called it good between July 2008 and January 2012, however the last few months have seen a steady rise from the 9% who said the job market was good in October, to the 14% who said so in January and now the 20% reporting these feelings in March. Although the numbers are improving, a majority still says that the job market in their region is bad (56%) while 24% say it is neither good nor bad.

The improvements in the job market are encouraging, as is the belief that the job market is growing. Currently one third (33%) of Americans believe the job market in their region is going to be better over the next six months while half (50%) say it will remain the same. Only 17% think it will be worse, which is lower than the 25% who said this in July 2011 and the 21% who said so in January.

Politics and the Economy

In an election year, it’s not surprising that the economy and job market are considered political issues, and it is also not a surprise that opinions differ between Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Currently over half of Democrats (59%) and Liberals (55%) give President Obama positive ratings on his handling of the economy while only 12% of Conservatives and 6% of Republicans do; Independents (26%) and Moderates (35%) fall somewhere in the middle. Possibly showing more faith in the current administration, almost half of Democrats say that the job market will be better in the next six months (47%)-one third (33%) of Independents agree-yet only 18% of Republicans say the same. A majority of Republicans think the job market will remain the same (55%) and over a quarter say it will get worse (27%).

The Cost of Living

Despite improvements in how Americans view the job market and expect it to change over the next six months, a majority are still concerned that their family’s income will not be enough to cover all of their costs and expenses this year. Currently 63% of Americans say they are concerned, with 26% very concerned. This is not very different from the 62%-65% who stated concern over the past two years. Not surprisingly, the higher a person’s household income, the less likely they are to be concerned about covering their costs and expenses. However, it is somewhat alarming that large numbers of people even in the highest income brackets-61% of those who earn $75,000 to $99,999 and 41% of those who earn $100,000 or more-say they are concerned about meeting their costs and expenses. And, despite their differing opinions on President Obama’s role in the economy and the outlook for the job market, when Democrats and Republicans were asked about their own financial concerns the story is the same: over six in ten Democrats (61%), Republicans (63%) and Independents (65%) say they are concerned that their family’s income will not be enough to cover all of their costs and expenses this year.

So What?

The economy and unemployment have been the focus for political initiatives and public discontent for some time. However, there are some possible green shoots, in that Americans overall are feeling better about the job market and President Obama’s handling of the economy than they have indicated for many months. However, the large number of Americans communicating concern about covering their family’s expenses is disconcerting and indicates that while we may be moving in the right direction, the country still has a way to go on the road to full economic recovery. It will be interesting to see how these issues and concerns are addressed by President Obama and his Republican opponent in the upcoming presidential election.

 

TABLE 1

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

2010

March

April

May

June

Aug

Sept

Nov

Dec

Jan

Mar

Apr

May

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

47

49

46

43

39

40

34

36

31

32

33

36

Excellent

13

13

10

3

9

7

6

6

5

5

6

6

Pretty good

34

36

36

34

31

33

27

30

25

27

27

30

NEGATIVE (NET)

53

51

54

57

61

60

66

64

69

68

67

64

Only fair

30

27

30

27

25

27

30

30

31

30

31

29

Poor

23

24

24

30

36

33

37

34

39

37

36

34

2010

2011

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

May

June

July

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

32

32

29

27

31

30

33

33

33

32

27

26

Excellent

5

6

5

5

5

5

7

9

5

7

5

3

Pretty good

27

26

24

22

26

25

26

24

28

26

22

23

NEGATIVE (NET)

68

68

71

73

69

70

67

62

67

68

73

74

Only fair

32

29

31

33

30

34

30

22

29

28

30

33

Poor

37

39

40

39

39

36

37

39

38

40

43

41

2011

2012

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

March

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

21

23

22

25

25

32

32

Excellent

2

3

3

4

2

3

5

Pretty good

18

20

20

22

22

29

27

NEGATIVE (NET)

79

77

78

75

75

68

68

Only fair

33

36

32

34

34

30

29

Poor

46

41

46

41

41

38

39

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 2

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)

32

6

59

26

12

35

55

Excellent

5

1

9

4

3

4

11

Pretty good

27

5

50

22

9

31

44

NEGATIVE (NET)

68

94

41

74

88

65

45

Only fair

29

20

32

33

18

34

33

Poor

39

74

10

41

70

31

11

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 3

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

March

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

GOOD (NET)

13

15

13

16

12

11

9

14

20

Neither good nor bad

22

24

22

23

24

22

24

21

24

BAD (NET)

65

61

65

61

64

67

67

65

56

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE 4

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)

20

20

20

23

17

Very good

4

3

3

6

4

Somewhat good

16

17

17

18

14

Neither good nor bad

24

24

24

27

19

BAD (NET)

56

56

57

50

64

Somewhat bad

32

35

31

28

37

Very bad

24

21

26

22

27

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

 

 

TABLE 5

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

March

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

31

31

32

30

22

27

33

Will be much better

4

4

2

4

2

2

3

Will be somewhat better

26

27

30

26

20

25

30

Will remain the same

51

51

52

49

53

53

50

WORSE (NET)

18

18

16

21

25

21

17

Will be somewhat worse

13

13

11

14

17

14

11

Will be much worse

6

5

6

7

8

7

6

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE 6

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)

33

18

47

33

Will be much better

3

1

5

2

Will be somewhat better

30

17

42

31

Will remain the same

50

55

45

50

WORSE (NET)

17

27

9

17

Will be somewhat worse

11

18

5

11

Will be much worse

6

9

3

5

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

 

TABLE 7

COCERNED ABOUT NOT HAVING ENOUGH INCOME

How concerned are you that your family’s income will not be enough to cover all your costs and expenses this year?

Base: All adults

2010

2011

2012

Household Income

$34,999 or less

$35,000

to

$49,999

$50,000

to

$74,999

$75,000 to $99,999

$100,000 or more

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Concerned (NET)

65

62

63

78

65

63

61

41

Very concerned

26

25

26

40

33

22

16

14

Somewhat concerned

39

37

37

38

32

42

46

27

Not concerned (NET)

36

38

37

22

35

37

39

59

Not very concerned

24

27

24

17

23

27

25

32

Not at all concerned

12

12

13

5

12

10

14

27

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 12 and 19, 2012 among 2,451 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.

J41436

Q705, 720, 725, 730

 

 

The Harris Poll® #35, March 28, 2012

By Samantha Braverman, Sr. Project Researcher, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

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