Americans Feel Better About the Job Market
March 28, 2012 (PRNewswire) This month 32 percent of Americans gave President Obama positive ratings on his handling of the economy while 68 percent gave him negative marks. This is the same as last month, and an improvement from the 25 percent and 75 percent 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 percent) than have said so since July of 2008, when 30 percent 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 percent have called it good between July 2008 and January 2012, however the last few months have seen a steady rise from the 9 percent who said the job market was good in October, to the 14% who said so in January and now the 20 percent reporting these feelings in March. Although the numbers are improving, a majority still says that the job market in their region is bad (56 percent) while 24 percent 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. One third (33 percent) of Americans believe the job market in their region is going to be better over the next six months while half (50 percent) said it will remain the same. Only 17 percent think it will be worse, which is lower than the 25 percent who said this in July 2011 and the 21 percent 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. Over half of Democrats and Liberals gave President Obama positive ratings on his handling of the economy while only 12 percent of Conservatives and 6 percent of Republicans do; Independents (26 percent) and Moderates (35 percent) fall somewhere in the middle.
Possibly showing more faith in the current administration, almost half of Democrats said that the job market will be better in the next six months (47 percent) -- one third (33 percent) of Independents agree -- yet only 18 percent of Republicans said the same. A majority of Republicans think the job market will remain the same (55 percent) and over a quarter say it will get worse (27 percent).
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 percent of Americans said they are concerned, with 26 percent very concerned. This is not very different from the 62-65 percent 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 percent of those who earn $75,000 to $99,999 and 41 percent of those who earn $100,000 or more -- said 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 percent), Republicans (63 percent) and Independents (65 percent) say they are concerned that their family's income will not be enough to cover all of their costs and expenses this year.
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.