Americans Are Divided on How They Rate the Job Market in Their Region

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Roughly four in ten U.S. adults (39%) perceive the current job market in their region of the nation as very or somewhat bad, while the remainder of Americans are evenly split between describing it as very/somewhat good and saying that it’s neither good nor bad (31% each). These results are consistent with those seen in January, when 38% believed their regions job market was bad, 30% good, and 32% neither good nor bad.

While positive perceptions of Americans’ regional job markets haven’t changed measurably since the beginning of the year, it’s worth noting that being on par with January’s ratings is no mean feat. In fact, the percentage of Americans seeing a sunny job market outlook in their region represents substantial growth over previous years – from 10% roughly five years ago (June 2010) to 26% just shy of a year ago (August 2014) to 31% today.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,273 adults surveyed online between July 15 and 20, 2015.

Since this is a regional outlook, it’s of course important to examine the results according to geography:

  • Positive attitudes toward regional job markets are strongest in the South and the West (34% each, vs. 29% in the Midwest and 23% in the East).
  • Easterners are the most pessimistic about the job market in their region, with 46% describing it as bad (vs. 38% each in the Midwest and South, and 33% in the West).

Additionally, men (35%) are more likely than women (27%) to rate the job market in their region positively.

It’s tough to get a read on whether President Obama is getting any credit for improved attitudes on the jobs market. As seen in a Harris Poll released earlier today, just under four in ten Americans (38%) give the President positive ratings for the job he’s doing on the U.S. economy, in between last month’s 36% and May’s 39%. Looking year over year though, the President’s ratings in this area have grown substantially – from 30% in July 2014 to 38% this month.

Looking ahead

More Americans believe the job market in their region will improve in the next six months (26%) than get worse (18%), but a 56% majority of U.S. adults aren’t expecting movement in either direction, indicating that they expect the job market in their region to remain the same.

There appears to be an element of mindset – even self-affirmation – at work in these attitudes:

  • Those describing the job market in their region as good are especially likely to believe it’s going to get better in the next six months (53%, vs. 7% of those who rate it bad and 21% of those rating it neither good nor bad).
  • Similarly, those with negative attitudes toward their region’s job market currently (37%) are especially likely to feel it will get worse in the next six months (4% good, 9% neither).
  • Many Americans, regardless of mindset on the current state of their region’s job market, expect it to remain the same in the next six months, but this is an especially strong perception among those who have a neutral attitude toward the job market currently (69%). Meanwhile, 43% of those who think the market is good and 55% who think the market is bad expect it to stay as is.

Americans also show divergent attitudes regarding their expectations of their regional job markets by region:

  • Americans in the South and West are most likely to expect their job markets to improve (30% each, vs. 20% East and 19% Midwest).
  • Looking more specifically at the South, Americans in this region are the most polarized on what the coming months will bring. In addition to being among the regions most prone toward optimism (as cited above), those in the South are also among those most likely (along with those in the Midwest) to expect the job market will get worse in the next six months (22% Midwest and 21% South, vs. 17% East and 13% West). Southerners are also the group least likely to believe the job market is likely to remain the same over the next six months (49%, vs. 63% East, 58% Midwest and 57% West).

Millennials are more likely than their elders to anticipate that the job market will improve in their region (31%, vs. 24% Gen Xers, 22% baby Boomers and 25% Matures).

Looking at gender differences, Men (30%) are more likely than women (22%) to expect the market will improve, while women (59% vs. 52% of men) are more likely to expect that it will remain the same

.

 

 

TABLE 1a

RATING OF CURRENT JOB MARKET IN YOUR REGION – TREND

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

Base:  All adults

 

2008

2009

2010

June

July

Jan

April

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Mar.

April

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

GOOD (NET)

28

30

6

12

9

8

10

10

8

9

10

8

10

Neither good nor bad

18

19

18

20

19

21

22

20

18

19

20

18

21

BAD (NET)

53

51

76

68

72

71

68

70

73

72

70

73

70

 

 

2010

2011

May

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

May

July

Sept

Oct

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

GOOD (NET)

12

10

12

10

13

11

13

13

15

13

16

12

11

9

Neither good nor bad

20

25

22

21

21

23

24

22

24

22

23

24

22

24

BAD (NET)

68

66

66

69

66

66

63

65

61

65

61

64

67

67

 

 

2012

2013

2014

2015

Jan

March

Feb

Aug

Oct

Jan

March

Aug

Jan

July

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

GOOD (NET)

14

20

21

23

20

21

20

26

30

31

Neither good nor bad

21

24

31

31

32

31

32

34

32

31

BAD (NET)

65

56

48

46

48

48

47

41

38

39

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

 

 

TABLE 1b

RATING OF CURRENT JOB MARKET IN YOUR REGION – By Region & Generation

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

Base:  All adults

 

Total

Region

Generation

Gender

East

Midwest

South

West

Millennials (18-35)

Gen Xers (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Men

Women

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

GOOD (NET)

31

23

29

34

34

36

27

29

28

35

27

     Very good

6

4

5

8

6

6

6

6

5

7

5

     Somewhat good

25

19

24

27

28

30

21

24

23

27

23

Neither good nor bad

31

31

33

27

32

28

31

31

36

29

31

BAD (NET)

39

46

38

38

33

37

42

39

37

36

41

     Somewhat bad

27

32

24

27

23

25

27

28

26

24

29

     Very bad

12

14

14

11

10

12

14

12

10

12

13

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


TABLE 2a

EXPECTATIONS FOR JOB MARKET IN YOUR REGION OVER NEXT 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

2011

Jan

April

June

Aug

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

May

July

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

15

23

21

28

26

23

21

23

30

25

31

31

32

30

22

     Will be much better

1

3

2

2

1

2

2

3

2

2

4

4

2

4

2

     Will be somewhat better

14

20

19

26

25

21

19

20

28

23

26

27

30

26

20

Will remain the same

36

42

47

47

53

49

53

53

50

54

51

51

52

49

53

WORSE (NET)

49

36

32

25

21

27

26

24

21

22

18

18

16

21

25

     Will be somewhat worse

36

29

24

19

15

22

20

18

15

16

13

13

11

14

17

     Will be much worse

14

7

8

6

6

5

6

6

6

6

6

5

6

7

8

 

 

2012

2013

2014

2015

Jan

March

Feb

Aug

Oct

Jan

Mar

Aug

Jan

July

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

27

33

28

25

20

24

23

27

27

26

     Will be much better

2

3

2

3

1

2

2

3

3

2

     Will be somewhat better

25

30

26

22

19

21

21

24

24

24

Will remain the same

53

50

52

52

53

53

55

53

56

56

WORSE (NET)

21

17

19

24

27

23

22

20

17

18

     Will be somewhat worse

14

11

15

17

19

16

16

14

13

13

     Will be much worse

7

6

5

7

8

7

7

6

4

6

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

 

 

TABLE 2b

  EXPECTATIONS FOR JOB MARKET IN YOUR REGION OVER NEXT SIX MONTHS – BY REGION

“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

Region

Generation

Gender

East

Midwest

South

West

Millennials (18-35)

Gen Xers (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Men

Women

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

26

20

19

30

30

31

24

22

25

30

22

    Will be much better

2

2

1

4

1

3

2

1

2

1

3

    Will be somewhat better

24

18

19

27

29

29

22

21

23

28

20

Will remain the same

56

63

58

49

57

51

54

60

60

52

59

WORSE (NET)

18

17

22

21

13

17

23

17

15

18

19

    Will be somewhat worse

13

11

15

14

10

11

16

13

10

12

13

    Will be much worse

6

5

7

6

3

6

7

5

5

6

6

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


TABLE 2c

  EXPECTATIONS FOR JOB MARKET IN YOUR REGION OVER NEXT SIX MONTHS – BY REGION

“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

Rating of Current Job Market in Region

Good (NET)

Neither good nor bad

Bad (NET)

%

%

%

 

BETTER (NET)

26

53

21

7

    Will be much better

2

5

1

*

    Will be somewhat better

24

48

21

7

Will remain the same

56

43

69

55

WORSE (NET)

18

4

9

37

    Will be somewhat worse

13

4

8

23

    Will be much worse

6

*

1

14

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

 

 

Methodology 

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between July 15 and 20, 2015 among 2,273 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, The Harris Poll 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 Poll 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 our 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 The Harris Poll.

The Harris Poll® #47, July 30, 2015

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll