U.S. Gallup Good Jobs Rate Edges to New High in June

Ben Ryan

Monday, July 11th, 2016

The Gallup Good Jobs rate in the U.S. was 46.0% in June. This is up nominally from May (45.5%) and stands as the highest monthly rate Gallup has recorded since measurement began in 2010. The current rate is also half a percentage point higher than in June 2015, suggesting an underlying increase in full-time work beyond seasonal changes in employment.

The GGJ metric tracks the percentage of U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, who work for an employer full time -- at least 30 hours per week. Gallup does not count adults who are self-employed, work fewer than 30 hours per week, are unemployed or are out of the workforce as payroll-employed in the GGJ metric.

The latest results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with 30,395 U.S. adults, conducted June 1-30 by landline telephone and cellphone. GGJ is not seasonally adjusted.

Workforce Participation at 67.5% in June

The percentage of U.S. adults in June who participated in the workforce -- by working full time, part time or not working but actively seeking and being available for work -- was 67.5%. This is up nominally from May's 67.3% and above the 66.9% average workforce participation rate since June 2013. Current workforce participation is slightly lower than the period from May 2010 to June 2013 when it averaged 67.7%.

Unemployment at 5.3%

Gallup's unadjusted U.S. unemployment rate was 5.3% in June, down nominally from May's 5.5%. June's unemployment estimate is the second lowest for any month since Gallup began tracking the measure in 2010, after reaching 5.2% in April of this year. Gallup's U.S. unemployment rate represents the percentage of adults in the workforce who did not have any paid work in the past seven days, either for an employer or for themselves, and who were actively looking for and available to work.

Unlike the Gallup Good Jobs rate, which is a percentage of the total population, the unemployment rates that Gallup and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report are percentages of the labor force. While both Gallup and BLS data are based on surveys with large sample sizes, the two have important methodological differences -- outlined at the end of this article. Additionally, the most-discussed unemployment rate released by the BLS each month is seasonally adjusted, while Gallup reports unadjusted numbers. Although Gallup's unemployment numbers strongly correlate with BLS rates, the BLS and Gallup estimates of unemployment do not always track precisely on a monthly basis.

Underemployment Down Slightly at 13.6%

Gallup's measure of underemployment in June was 13.6%, almost the same as May's (13.7%) yet also the lowest Gallup has recorded since 2010. June's rate also marks the fourth straight month of declining underemployment from February's rate of 14.7%. Gallup's U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed (5.3%) with those who are working part time but desire full-time work (8.3%).

Bottom Line

Based on the seasonal patterns observed over the past six years, full-time employment generally peaks in midsummer at the same time that unemployment falls. In that sense, this past month's findings are in line with previously observed seasonal patterns. However, June 2016 stands out as having the highest GGJ rate of any June -- or any month at all -- dating back to 2010, as well as one of the lowest unemployment rates that Gallup has yet recorded. This is indicative of a broader, continuing improvement in the U.S. labor market beneath the seasonal ups and downs.