Fourteen percent of U.S. adults surveyed in January said the job market in their region of the country is improving, up from 9% who said so in October: Harris Interactive

February 2, 2012 () – In the current political environment the job market continues to be one of the more important topics. And, for the first time in months, Americans are indicating that the job market in their region of the country may be improving, albeit slightly. This month 14% of U.S. adults say that the job market in their region of the country is good, which is up from 9% who said so in October 2011, 11% who said so in September and 12% who said so two months earlier in July 2011. The number of Americans who call the job market in their region bad has also dropped this month, to 65%, down from 67% who said so in October 2011.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,016 adults surveyed online between January 16 and 23, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Although these numbers are still low overall, with almost two thirds calling the job market in their region bad (65%) and one in five saying it's neither good nor bad (21%), a minor increase is important, and may be reflective of real change. Looking across the country it appears that the job markets in the East and South are the best, as 15% and 16% in those regions respectively say that the market there is good, while the Midwest and West may be struggling more-over two thirds in the Midwest (67%) and West (71%) call the job market in their region bad.

Further evidence that the national job market may be improving is the response seen when Americans were asked how they think the job market in their region will change over the next 6 months. For the first time since March 2011 more people say that the job market in their region will be better-27% say so now, compared to 22% in July. While this number shows an increase, it's still lower than the three in ten who expected the job market to improve when asked during the first half of 2011 (30%-32% said so between January and May 2011).

Looking by political party there are stark differences in attitudes regarding the future of the job market-Democrats show significantly more optimism than do either Independents or Republicans. Fully two in five Democrats expect that the job market will improve over the next 6 months (41%) compared to 24% of Independents and only 14% of Republicans who say the same. Republicans and Independents are most likely to say that they think the job market will stay the same (56% and 55%).

This optimism about the job market may be related to perceived blame for the state of the economy. When asked how much each of the following groups are to blame for their financial situation, a large majority of Republicans (84%) and over half of Independents (55%) say they blame the President. This compares to fewer than one third of Democrats who say the same (30%). When asked about other groups' blame for the current financial situation some of the results include:

Large majorities of Americans say they blame Congress (81%) and Wall Street (70%) for their financial situation;
Two thirds say they blame large corporations (66%), fewer say they blame state government (62%) or the President (56%) and less than half say they blame local government (48%).

Similarly to how partisan differences may account for how much someone blames the President for their financial situation, Democrats are also significantly less likely than both Republicans and Independents to give President Obama negative ratings on his handling of the economy. Overall one quarter of Americans say President Obama's handling of the economy is excellent or very good (25%) while three quarters say it is only fair or poor (75%). These numbers are unchanged since last month despite the other improvements seen in perceptions of the job market.

So What?

The economy and political approval ratings are inexplicably tied. While President Obama continues to struggle with his approval ratings, it seems that Americans' perceptions of the job market have improved slightly. If these feelings continue, President Obama and his campaign team would do well to link themselves to the improved sentiment. If the feelings do not improve, or do not improve enough, the President's Republican opposition will surely try to take advantage of the dissatisfaction.

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 16 and 23, 2012 among 2,016 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.



The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

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The Harris Poll ® #13, February 2, 2012

By Samantha Braverman, Sr. Project Researcher, Harris Interactive


About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

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