The Not So Broad Jobs Recovery

April 11, 2013, 3:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 4/6/2013) In the last few months the U.S. unemployment rate has been inching downward. Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported another tick downwards, to 7.6%. But the movement has been glacial, and many Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll simply don’t see any improvement at all. Only one in four see the jobless rate decreasing in the last few months, with about the same percentage saying unemployment had increased in that period.

One reason that the declining unemployment rate isn’t visible to Americans is that so many of them have personal experience with job loss – or know someone who is still looking for a job. More than three in four personally know someone who is unemployed and still looking for work, or fit that bill themselves. Americans don’t notice an improving economy if the improvement hasn’t yet reached them or their friends. Knowledge of someone now looking for work crosses age, gender, party, education and income boundaries.

Only 6% expect there will be a large decrease in unemployment in the next year, with more anticipating unemployment will go up than expect it to go down.

And when it comes to job creation, only 24% think there will be more jobs created in the next six months, and 32% think the number of jobs will decline.

The President’s approval rating isn’t being helped by poor economic perceptions. In this week’s poll, fewer approve of his handling of the economy (41%) than disapprove (47%).

When it comes to perceptions of his job performance as President overall, however, this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll marked the eighth consecutive week where Barack Obama’s approval ratings outweighed disapproval. Respondents split 48% to 46% in his favor.