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Monday, February 20, 2012

U.S. Unemployment Increases in Mid-February


February 17, 2012

U.S. Unemployment Increases in Mid-February

Underemployment also up, to 19.0%

by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist
PRINCETON, NJ -- The U.S. unemployment rate, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, is 9.0% in mid-February, up from 8.6% for January. The mid-month reading normally reflects what the U.S. government reports for the entire month, and is up from 8.3% in mid-January.
Gallup's U.S. Unemployment Rate, Monthly Averages
Gallup's mid-month unemployment reading, based on the 30 days ending Feb. 15, serves as a preliminary estimate of the U.S. government report, and suggests the Bureau of Labor Statistics will likely report on the first Friday of March that its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased in February. Gallup found that unemployment decreased to 8.3% in its mid-January report, and suggested that the U.S. unemployment rate the BLS reported for January would decline.
Gallup also finds 10.0% of U.S. employees in mid-February are working part time but want full-time work, essentially the same as in January. The mid-February reading means the percentage of Americans who can only find part-time work remains close to its high since Gallup began measuring employment status in January 2010.
Percentage of U.S. Workers Working Part Time but Wanting Full-Time Work,\nMonthly Averages
Underemployment, a measure that combines the percentage of workers who are unemployed with the percentage working part time but wanting full-time work, is 19.0% in mid-February. This is higher than the 18.7% recorded for January, and is up significantly compared with January's mid-month reading of 18.1%.
Gallup's U.S. Underemployment Rate, Monthly Averages
Looking Ahead to the Government's Unemployment Report
The U.S. government in early March will report its February unemployment rate. That rate will be based on mid-month conditions. Therefore, Gallup's mid-month unemployment reading, based on data collected through the 15th of the month, normally provides a good basis on which to estimate the direction of the government's unemployment rate for the month. In mid-January, Gallup results suggested the unemployment rate would decline, consistent with the government's positive January jobs report of Feb. 3.
Seasonal forces typically cause unadjusted unemployment rates to increase at this time of year. In this regard, some of the sharp increase Gallup finds in unemployment and underemployment may result from seasonal factors. Although the government seasonally adjusts the U.S. unemployment rate, and the workforce participation rate could decline -- both of which could drive down its unemployment rate -- it still seems likely that the BLS will report an increase in the seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate for February.
Regardless of what the government reports, Gallup's unemployment and underemployment measures show a sharp deterioration in job market conditions since mid-January. This is consistent with a similar decline in Gallup's Job Creation Index to +13 in the second week of February, from +16 for January. It is also consistent with an economy that continues to struggle with modest growth, particularly as gas prices surge. Further, it suggests that it is premature to assume the condition of the economy will not remain a major issue for Americans both financially and politically in 2012.
How Gallup's Unemployment Measure Differs From the U.S. Government's Measure
Gallup.com reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in Gallup.com stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:
Read more about Gallup's economic measures.
View our economic release schedule.
Survey Methods
Gallup classifies American workers as underemployed if they are either unemployed or working part time but wanting full-time work. The findings reflect more than 18,000 phone interviews with U.S. adults aged 18 and older in the workforce, collected over a 30-day period. Gallup's results are not seasonally adjusted and are ahead of government reports by approximately two weeks.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking from Jan. 17, 2012, to Feb. 15, 2012, with a random sample of 18,630 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.
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