Americans' Assessment of Quality Job Outlook Remains Stable

Frank Newport

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

More than four in 10 Americans (42%) believe now is a good time to find a quality job in this country. These attitudes about the job market generally have been steady over the past two years and are among the most positive in Gallup's trend since 2001.

Americans' ratings of the job market in 2015 and 2016 are improved from the depressed ratings seen during and immediately after the recession. Optimism about the availability of quality jobs plummeted to as low as 8% in November 2009 and November 2011. After 2011, Americans' perceptions steadily improved -- reaching 45% in January 2015 -- and have generally leveled off since then.

The most positive views of the job market in Gallup's trend were recorded in the early months of 2007, including 48% of Americans who said it was a good time to find a quality job in January of that year.

Today's optimism about jobs comes as fewer Americans mention unemployment or jobs as the most important problem facing the country. Six percent name unemployment/jobs in October as the nation's top problem, down significantly from recent years. The highest percentage mentioning jobs as the nation's top problem since Gallup began tracking the measure 15 years ago was 39% in September 2011.

Republicans Still Less Optimistic Than Democrats About Quality Jobs

Fifty-six percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say it's a good time to find a quality job, compared with 26% of Republicans and Republican leaners. Democrats are substantially more optimistic than Republicans about the job market, consistent with the partisan divide seen on this measure throughout President Barack Obama's administration.

Americans' assessments of the job market are related to whether an individual's party identification matches the party of the president. Prior to 2009, when a Republican occupied the White House, Republicans were more positive than Democrats.


While both major party presidential candidates say they will focus on creating jobs if elected in November, GOP nominee Donald Trump has been much more critical of the current state of the economy than has Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. These positions generally align with how rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats currently view the job market.

Clinton's more optimistic view of the jobs situation is somewhat more in line with Americans' views overall. Although the 42% who currently say it's a good time to find a quality job may seem low on an absolute basis, it is high compared with levels seen in October of recent presidential election years: 22% in October 2012, 14% in October 2008 and 29% in October 2004. Additionally, the 6% who say unemployment is the nation's top problem today is considerably lower than the 26% who said the same in October 2012.