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  • Gallup: Americans Regaining Confidence in Real Estate

    Does the bursting of the housing bubble seem like ages ago to you? It doesn't to us. Middle class families across the U.S. saw their primary investment channels--their homes and real estate in general--depreciate. And yet, when Gallup asked Americans where they feel most confident putting their money, real estate topped the list. These results are from Gallup's April 3-6 Economy and Personal Finances poll that asked Americans to choose the best option for long-term investments: real estate, stocks and mutual funds, gold, savings accounts and CDs, or bonds. Prior to 2011, Gallup asked the same question, but did not include gold as an option. Gold was the most popular long-term investment among Americans in 2011 -- a time when gold was at its highest market price and real estate and stock values were lower than they are today. Gold prices dropped significantly after that and it lost favor with Americans. The 24% of Americans who currently name gold as the best long-term investment ties with the 24% who choose stocks. Bonds have been Americans' least favored investment option for as long as Gallup has been asking the question. Savings accounts and CDs, on the other hand, have been more popular in the past. In September 2008, before gold was an option and at a time when the real estate and stock markets were tanking, savings accounts were the most popular long-term investment among Americans. This year, the housing market has been improving across the U.S., and home prices have recently been rising after a steep drop in 2007 during the subprime mortgage crisis. This current improvement in prices may be why more Americans now consider real estate the best option for long-term investments. In 2002, during the real estate boom that preceded the mortgage crisis and before gold was offered as an option in the question, half of Americans said real estate was the best investment choice. Read more from the survey results here .
  • Gallup Economic Confidence Index Level in February, Remains at Pre-Shutdown Level

    Americans' confidence in the economy remained flat in February. Confidence had plummeted in October with the partial shutdown of the federal government, but recovered significantly in the three months following. Gallup 's Economic Confidence Index : is now at -16, roughly where it was last spring when it began a climb to a 5 year peak of -7. Here's a look at the monthly averages since the start of 2008: From the report: The end of consecutive monthly climbs in Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is not an auspicious sign, particularly as Americans remain more negative than positive about the economy overall. After the government shutdown wreaked havoc on Americans' confidence in both the government and the economy in October, a parade of monthly improvements offered some hope that economic confidence might finally escape negative territory. But the readings have plateaued at the pre-shutdown level -- in other words, they are back to "normal." However, if 2014 is anything like 2013, good things could be in store as the seasons change. Last spring and summer saw some of the highest economic confidence index readings Gallup has recorded since it began tracking these measures in 2008. And with contentious gridlock on fiscal matters temporarily out of the way for the president and Congress, political sideshows should be less of a threat to economic confidence in the near future, giving confidence a fighting chance of reaching positive territory.; Read the full release here .
  • Gallup: Consumer Confidence Begins to Rebound

    Americans' confidence in the economy has begun to recover a bit from a sharp decline during the partial shutdown of the federal government. Gallup 's Economic Confidence Index : rose from -35 in October to -25 in November. Here's a look at the monthly averages since the start of 2008: Confidence rose at roughly the same levels across income groups, but wealthier Americans are more confident than middle and lower income groups: The uptick in confidence corresponds with a small increase in consumer spending . Read the full release here .
  • Gallup: Christmas Shoppers Planning to Spend Less

    Is it possible a lot of people moved from the nice list to the naughty list in the last month? While we have no data on Santa's plans, Gallup is reporting that Americans are now estimating that they will spend $704 on Christmas gifts this year. In October, the average estimation was $786. Here's a look at what Americans' estimates for Christmas gift spending have been each November since 1999: Read the report here . Meanwhile, economic confidence among U.S. consumers appears is rising, according to another Gallup survey. Which brings us back to the naughty list. If people aren't as worried about the economy, what other reason is there to cut their spending plans? Read more here .
  • Gallup Survey: College Graduates Are the Least Engaged Workers in the US

    While there are some doubts creeping in about how much debt one should take on in the pursuit of higher education, a college degree is still a good investment. Get a degree, your wages are likely to be significantly higher than if you don't have one. But be warned: you may end up a less engaged worker. That's an interesting--and surprising, to us at least--result of a recent Gallup workplace survey. An increasingly educated workforce is expected to bring many benefits to the U.S. economy, but it appears that just having a college education isn't necessarily enough to feel engaged on the job. As workplace engagement is itself a key to economic growth, a workforce with so many highly educated workers who are either not engaged or actively disengaged is bad for the U.S. economy. Figuring out why college-educated Americans are less engaged is important to improving the economy, but also the educational system. Ensuring colleges are preparing students to get jobs in which they will feel engaged is just as crucial as urging employers to create engaging workplaces. Half of recent graduates are in jobs that don't require a degree, according to a 2012 Gallup/Lumina Foundation poll. This is likely a contributing factor to lower engagement. Building a better pipeline between colleges and workplaces in the U.S. is key. And, even though college-educated Americans may struggle more to find an engaging job, a degree may allow them to avoid becoming "trapped" in a bad job by providing more employment options. Thus, employers and managers should take note and assess the engagement status of their college-educated workers to see if there are ways to improve the work environment and increase the engagement of these highly educated employees. Read the full release here .
  • Gallup: Global Pessimism Over Job Prospects

    People around the globe seem to agree on one thing: now is not a good time to look for a job. Gallup has released the results of its latest global survey of employment optimism, and the Americas is the only region in which 40% of respondents say now is a "good time" to look for a job. The global average is 33%. Europe comes in last at 17%, and all the most pessimistic countries are there; Of course, there are some countries where people are quite optimistic, and they tend to be in emerging markets: Read the results of the survey here .
  • Gallup Trends: Stock Ownership Among Americans Keeps Dropping

    With the Dow Jones Industrial Average topping 15,000 for the first time, it seems like a good time for Americans to invest in the stock market. And yet fewer Americans are investing in stocks. Here's a look at the decline in the percentage of Americans investing, from Gallup : We should be careful not to come to the conclusion that Americans' don't have faith in stocks, or that they don't want to invest. This is likely more a result of American families, especially middle-aged and middle-income Americans, not having the money to invest that they did in the 90s. In fact, the biggest drops in ownership are among those groups: Read more from Gallup here .
  • Washington DC Metro Most Optimistic About US Economy

    When we are looking for reasons to be optimistic about the U.S. economy, we try our best not to look in the direction of our nation's capital. And yet, it turns out that is a hotspot of economic optimism. At least relative to feelings about the economy in other metro areas. Gallup has released the 2012 Economic Confidence Index scores for U.S. Metro areas and Washington, DC comes in with a score of +5. The only other metro areas with positive scores on the index are San Jose and San Francisco-Oakland. Jacksonville, FL is at the other end of the spectrum with an Economic Confidence Index score of -28. DC Metro residents are also the most positive (or least negative) about current economic conditions as well: Overall, economic confidence scores in large metro areas were more positive last year than in 2011. Residents in the Washington, San Jose, and San Francisco areas had the most positive scores on the Gallup Economic Confidence Index. Nationally, the Economic Confidence Index has remained in negative territory since Gallup began daily tracking in 2008. But Americans' economic confidence has improved so far in 2013, matching a five-year monthly high in January and February. These signs suggest Americans are feeling more confident about their local job market and the U.S economy. Read the full release here .
  • Economic Confidence Declines With Failure to Reach Budget Deal

    Americans' confidence in the economy took a hit at the end of last week when our elected officials failed to come up with a deal to avoid the so-called sequestration. Here is a look at the weekly averages of Gallup 's Economic Confidence Index : But before we get too caught up in the drop, here's a look at the monthly averages: As Gallup's Alyssa Brown notes, economic confidence had been at a five-year high. The question is whether action in Washington (or inaction) will offset the larger trend. A majority of Americans, 56%, say the nation's economy will suffer this year if the federal budget sequestration goes into effect and 44% say sequestration will harm their own finances. This sentiment, combined with a sharp decline in Americans' economic confidence in the week ending March 3, suggests that Americans' monthly economic confidence may slip further in March. But, Americans' confidence in the economy did rebound quickly after the fiscal cliff debate came to an end, so confidence may similarly bounce back if leaders in Washington reach a deal. Read the full release here .
  • North Dakota Top Scorer in Gallup's Job Creation Index for Fourth Year in a Row

    The Midwest was the highest scoring region for Gallup 's Job Creation Index for 2012, but the index showed improvement across the nation. Only four states--Arizona, Delaware, Mississippi, and West Virginia--had lower survey scores than 2011. Gallup's Job Creation Index is based on employee reports of their own company's hiring activity, so we don't want to go overboard on what the data tells us her, but the trending is positive. Here is a look at Gallup's interactive map: On average in Gallup Daily tracking from January through December 2012, 43% of North Dakota workers said their company was hiring workers and expanding the size of its workforce, while 9% said their employer was letting workers go and reducing the size of its workforce, for a +34 Job Creation Index score. This is easily the best among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and is 16 percentage points above the national average of +18. North Dakota has ranked first four years in a row. Full results by state for 2012 can be found on page 2. South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, and the District of Columbia have also all ranked among the top states in hiring in 2011 and 2012. Maine is new to the bottom 10 states in 2012, compared with 2011, largely because its +10 Job Creation Index score was unchanged while most states showed improvement. Connecticut, Idaho, New Jersey, Oregon, New Mexico, New York, and California are the seven states that made a repeat appearance among the bottom 10 in 2012. Read the full report here .
  • Gallup: Most Americans Expect Another Difficult Year for U.S. Economy

    Americans are not exactly bullish when it comes to the economic prospects for 2013, according to the results of a Gallup poll released this week. Take a look: From the report: The 65% of Americans who predict 2013 will be a year of economic difficulty is one of the more negative responses to this question since Gallup first asked it in 1965. There has been, however, a great deal of fluctuation over that time period, from a high of 65% who said 1965 would be a year of prosperity, to a low of 7% who predicted 1974 would be a year of prosperity. A majority of Americans were positive about the economy in 1998 and 1999, while swinging more to the "economic difficulty" side of the ledger when asked about 2005. On a more positive note, the majority of those surveyed expect to see increasing employment this year: Read the full survey results here .
  • American Satisfaction and Economic Confidence Trending Up

    Gallup is reporting that Americans' satisfaction with the direction of the country remains above 30%. That may not seem very high, but satisfaction has been above 30% for three months now, following three years below that mark. What we find striking in the latest Gallup report has to do with Americans' views on the economy. While economic matters are the most pressing concern for over 60% of Americans, there is a sharp post-election dip. Take a look: This coupled with the rise in Gallup's Economic Confidence Index suggests the rise in overall satisfaction in the direction of the country has a lot to do with changing confidence in the economic outlook. Take a look at the full report here .
  • Gallup: Blue Collar Workers Most Pessimistic About Job Prospects

    Workers around the world on not very optimistic about their job prospects. And blue collar workers are especially pessimistic. According to a Gallup survey conducted globally last year but released this week, 33% of blue collar workers worldwide thought that it was a good time to look for a job. 38% of white collar workers thought it was a good time to look for a job. Not surprisingly then, there is a strong correlation between education levels and optimism. Workers around the world who did not complete secondary school are the least optimistic--with the notable exception of the Americas: From the survey release: The global recession continued to affect many economies throughout the world in 2011. However, the economic downturn has not always influenced global residents' perceptions of their ability to find a job in their local city or area. Women have historically been less positive than men about the local job market, and those with more education are more likely to find sustainable employment than those with less. With the exception of Latin America, white-collar workers have fared better worldwide than blue-collar workers. In 2011, residents in the Americas -- except in the U.S. -- have generally remained more positive about the job market because of lower unemployment, economies driven by a growing middle class, natural resource exports, minerals and commodities, and less integration of their financial sectors with those of the recession-hit U.S. and Europe. Despite generally more positive perceptions in selected regions and countries, world residents have historically struggled to be more positive than negative when it comes to local job prospects. Economic uncertainty and rigid policies, systemic unemployment, political unrest, and corruption contribute to negative perceptions. However, these negative perceptions might also be an indicator of something positive -- that global residents are not satisfied with the status quo and continue to strive to make better lives for themselves and their families through good jobs. Read the full release here .
  • Gallup's New Employment Measure

    With a lot of economists and economy-watchers not fully satisfied with the unemployment rate as a measure of how many Americans are out of work, Gallup is launching a new measure. Payroll to Population is designed to give a clearer picture of the percentage of all Americans who are employed full time. Gallup has been collecting data for Payroll to Population since 2010, and has now put out its first release. Here's a look at the trend since January, 2010: From the report: Gallup's Payroll to Population employment measure adds value to the understanding of the economy beyond that provided by the unemployment rate, the current gold standard of employment metrics. Both Gallup and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics assess unemployment, but Payroll to Population is a measure unique to Gallup. Payroll to Population is a straightforward measure based on the number of adults in the total population who work for an employer at least 30 hours per week. As the employment situation improves or deteriorates, or as populations move in and out of the workforce, Payroll to Population will do the same, and is a true representation of the economic energy of the country. In contrast, unemployment rates are based on the number of adults in the workforce who are looking for and available for work. This classic measure has become the main gauge of the nation's employment situation, and its long trends provide significant value, but the unemployment statistic also can paint an incomplete -- or in some instances, misleading -- portrait of the status of the workforce. Case in point, in the August jobs report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was a drop in the size of the workforce -- reflecting more discouragement among job seekers -- that helped to bring the unemployment rate down. Additionally, the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics calculations involve elaborate adjustments each month, which can mask underlying trends, and traditional unemployment metrics count Americans who are working at least one hour per week as employed. In contrast, Payroll to Population will only increase or decrease if there is a change to the number of Americans working full-time jobs. Read the full release here .
  • Gallup Poll Shows Small Business Owners Intend to Create More Jobs

    More small business owners intend to make new hires over the next year, according to a recently released Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index poll. 22% of small business owners expect to increase the total number of jobs at their businesses, while just 8% expect to decrease the number of jobs. Here's a look at the index trend: From Gallup: The increase in small-business owner hiring intentions over the past year is consistent with the strong performance of Gallup's Job Creation Index in January and the decline in the unemployment rate as measured by Gallup at mid-month. At the same time, small-business owners have often expected to increase hiring in recent years but later reported that they actually eliminated more jobs than they created. So it remains to be seen whether the greater expectations for hiring in the next 12 months will become reality. The preference of small-business owners for hiring temporary, contract, and part-time workers may help explain why Gallup is seeing increasing numbers of people working part time but wanting full-time work even when the unemployment rate is lower. Further, this preference may reflect the continued caution on the part of many small-business owners toward the U.S. economy. Just a year ago, many owners also hoped to significantly increase their hiring in 2011, but their current reports of hiring they did last year indicates that this did not happen. Many small-business owners also continue to say they are having trouble finding qualified employees. This situation could end up hurting a lot more than one in five small businesses if hiring begins in earnest later this year. While small-business owners tend to be agile -- and have demonstrated their ability to adjust to the business cycle as needed to survive -- weak economic conditions have persisted since 2008. Read the full release here . (hat tip Small Business Trends )