Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
The one lagging indicator during the economic recovery has been jobs. And it is also lagging in the minds of Americans, but there are indications people are more optimistic, albeit slightly more. Currently, three in five U.S. adults (61%) rate the current job market in their region of the nation as bad, one-quarter (24%) rate it as neither good nor bad and 15% say it is good. Last month, almost two-thirds of Americans (65%) rated it as bad and 13% said it was good. While these numbers may not seem all that strong, they are the highest since July of 2008 when half of Americans (51%) said the job market was bad and three in ten (30%) said it was good.
Looking at this by region, there are some brighter spots. One-quarter of Easterners (24%) say the job market in their region is good and just half (51%) say it is bad. The South and the Midwest are in the middle with three in five saying the job market in their region is bad (60% and 59% respectively) while 17% of Southerners say it is good and 13% of Midwesterners saying that. The West seems to be the sore spot for jobs. Seven in ten Westerners (71%) say the job market in their region is bad while just 7% say it is good.
Looking ahead, half of Americans (51%) say the job market in their region of the nation will be the same in the next six months while three in ten (31%) say it will be better and one in five (18%) say it will be worse. This is virtually unchanged since January.
Perceptions on the economy always lag behind reality, especially when the reality is presented by economists. People wait until they feel more secure about their job, or the prospect of finding a new one, before they say the job market is solid again. A similar feeling holds for the overall economy – once people aren't thinking twice about spending money or dipping into savings, then there is a sense that the economy has improved. The American economy doesn't seem to be quite there yet, but there are very small encouraging signs it is headed that way.