Why Now Is a Good Time to Find Work
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Americans are starting to feel better about the economy. A little.
According to a new Gallup poll , 27% of Americans agree that now is a good time to find a "quality job." This is the first time in six years that so many people have rated their job prospects positively, a sign of small, but positive, movement.
Gallup's poll asks the following question: "Thinking about the job situation in America today, would you say that it is now a good time or a bad time to find a quality job?" The last time that American's optimism on this issue reached 30% was back in January, 2008, while it was taking a long tumble down into recession.
The poll bottomed out in 2009 and 2011 when only 8% of respondents thought it was a good time to go looking for work.
For those three years -- 2009, 2010 and 2011 -- respondents almost universally answered negatively, reflecting widespread loss of confidence in the economy during the recession. That optimism has started to rebuild as the economy has recovered over the past two years, but it still remains weak.
This high point of 27% is far lower than when nearly half the country felt good about the job market back in 2007. It's lower still than in August, 2000, at the tail end of the dot-com boom when 78% of Americans thought that they lived in a good era for finding quality work. Although the latest results show improvement over recent lows, they still reflect a country in the doldrums.
After all, while 27% optimism is better than the millennium's low point, it still means only one in four Americans think things are going well.
Responses to this question also track the country's political views. In a follow up question Gallup polled participants' political leanings, discovering that Americans' opinion of the economy tends to adhere to whether their party holds the White House. For the George W. Bush presidency, self-identified Republicans were considerably more optimistic about the state of the economy than Democrats.
In mid-2009, the parties switched places as Republican confidence in the economy collapsed during and after the election of President Barack Obama. Left wing confidence grew slightly, but only recently have Democrats grown considerably more optimistic than Republicans during this presidency.
As Gallup points out in its survey, consumer belief in the economy reflects far more than just man-on-the-street opinion. An economy in very large measure runs on confidence, and when people think things aren't going well that perception can quickly turn itself into reality.
"All in all, regardless of the precise nature of what is happening in the economy, if Americans define a situation as real, the consequences can be real," the survey says. "This means the current perception that it's not a good time to be looking for a job can translate into restraints on consumer spending, major economic commitments, moving and other actions that could stimulate the economy."