Almost Half of Americans Rate Job Market in their Region as Bad

Over half of U.S. adults believe the job market in their region will remain the same

Aug 27, 2013, 15:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Aug. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The end of the summer is upon us; kids are going back to school, vacations are ending and people are looking ahead – perhaps to the holidays or to football season, or maybe even to next summer. But the one thing that looms over all this is how the economy will fare over the upcoming months. And, the fall is also a time when many people start thinking about changing jobs, hoping to have that new one when the calendar turns. So, what are attitudes towards the economy and the job market?


Looking at the overall economy, things have drifted downwards over the past month. While about two in five (42%) expect that the economy will stay the same in the coming year, three in ten (31%) say it will get worse and 27% believe it will improve. Last month, three in ten (29%) expected the economy to improve in the coming year, 27% expected it to get worse and 44% said it will stay the same.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,286 adults surveyed online between August 14 and 19, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full results, including data tables, can be found here)

The job market
While the unemployment numbers may be slowly drifting down, attitudes towards the job market overall are not following. Almost half of Americans (46%) rate the current job market in their region of the country as bad, while three in ten (31%) say it is neither good nor bad and less than one-quarter (23%) say it is good. Over half of Easterners (52%) say the job market in their region is bad, compared to 43% of those in the South.

Looking ahead, there is not much hope as just over half of U.S. adults (52%) say they believe the job market in their region of the country will remain the same over the next six months, while one-quarter believe it will get better (25%) and one-quarter of Americans (24%) believe it will get worse. In February of this year, the same number of Americans believed the job market would remain the same (52%) but almost three in ten (28%) though it would get better and 19% believed it would get worse.

One-third of Americans (34%) currently have a 401(k), and while the stock market had its downs in 2008 and its ups more recently, many nervous investors looked at their statements with trepidation. A common question was: should changes be made to the plan, or would keeping the status quo be the way to go? Among those who have a 401(k) plan, just one-quarter made changes when the stock market dropped in 2008 (24%), while three in five (59%) did not; almost one in five of current 401(k) plan participants did not have one in 2008 (17%).

Looking at those who made changes versus those who didn't, both groups did well. Seven in ten 401(k) plan participants who made changes (71%) say the amount of their plan is up when compared to before the drop in the stock market; 58% of those who did not make changes say the same. In fact, one in five of all plan holders (19%) say they have seen an increase of over 10% (19% of those who made changes and 18% of those who did not). One in five plan holders have seen the value of their 401(k)s go down (21%), while 18% have seen no change.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 14 and 19, 2013 among 2,286 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.

Q715, 720, 725, 730, 735, 740

The Harris Poll® #57, August 27, 2013
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive
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