The FINANCIAL -- WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sixty-seven percent of Americans believe that now is a good time to find a quality job in the U.S., the highest percentage in 17 years of Gallup polling.
Optimism about the availability of good jobs has grown by 25 percentage points since Donald Trump was elected president.
Gallup has asked Americans to say whether it is a good time or bad time to find a quality job monthly since August 2001. Prior to 2017, the percentage saying "good time" never reached 50%, but since Trump took office in January that year, the percentage has stayed at or above 50% and has been higher than 60% in eight of the past nine months, according to Gallup.
During the presidency of Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, the percentage of Americans who thought it was a bad time to find a quality job outweighed the percentage who thought it was a good time until the final weeks he was in office. However, Obama took office in the midst of the Great Recession of 2007-2009, when only 13% thought it was a good time to get a quality job, and the percentage almost quadrupled during his eight years in office.
The question was first asked in August 2001, the eighth month of George W. Bush's presidency, as Americans were losing confidence in the economy following the bursting of the dot-com bubble. At that time, 39% said it was a good time to find a quality job, but the percentage dropped to 25% when it was asked again in October that year, a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Optimism grew slowly over the next five years of Bush's term, peaking at 48% in January 2007 before a two-year slide that ended with the 13% "good time" response in January 2009.
Republicans' Optimism About Quality Jobs Soars, Democrats' Falls Only a Little
Comparing combined responses for the three-month period just before Trump's election, the first three months of his presidency, and the most recent three months reveals just how much the recent increase in overall optimism is the product of a radical turnaround among Republicans and those who lean Republican.
On average, 27% of Republicans said it was a good time to find a quality job in the three polls (August, September, October) leading up to the 2016 election. But the average Republican figure for Trump's first three months in office -- February, March and April 2017 -- more than doubled to 60%. The average for the most recent three months -- March, April and May of this year -- now stands at 82%.
Just as important to the rising percentage of all Americans thinking it's a good time to find a quality job is that optimism among Democrats has fallen only slightly since the transition from Obama to Trump, perhaps because the U.S. unemployment rate is low. An average of 54% of Democrats and Democratic leaners said in the three months prior to the 2016 election that it was a good time to find a quality job. That number slipped less than 10 points, to 47%, in the first months of the Trump presidency and stands at 53% for the most recent three-month period.
A possible factor behind Democrats' willingness to believe in the strength of the job market is their belief that Obama is more responsible for it than Trump. In January, 90% gave Obama a great deal or moderate amount of credit for "improvements in the U.S. economy"; 21% gave Trump credit.
Optimism Rises Among All Age, Income, Education Groups
Americans of in all age, income and education groups are decidedly more positive about the job market now than before Trump's election, and as that has happened, the previous major differences by age and education have shrunk or disappeared. Among men and women, however, the gap has widened.
Unemployment in the U.S., which reached 10% as the Great Recession was ending in 2009, fell steadily from that point and was more than halved by November 2016. But while Americans could see the ranks of the unemployed dwindling, they remained skeptical that the jobs being taken were good jobs.
However, with Trump's election, Republicans gained confidence that the economy would produce quality jobs, and a sizable percentage of Democrats held onto the belief that decisions made during Obama's presidency created the conditions needed for the economy to prosper. With unemployment continuing to drop, Americans now survey the job market with a higher level of confidence that jobs are available and that the jobs are ones worth having.