In a tracking survey that estimates the percentage of the U.S. population employed at least 30 hours a week, Gallup reports that the Payroll to Population (P2P) employment rate rose from 43.7% in November to 44.4% in December.
The December reading remains well below the 45.7 measured in October, the highest reading in three years.
Gallup's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in December is 7.9%, a decline of 0.4% from the firm's November calculation. As a result, the company expects the "official" number due out tomorrow from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to decline slightly from the 7.7% reported in November.
According to Gallup, its P2P metric is based on the entire population, not just those in the workforce, as is the case with unemployment rate computations, nor does the survey include the self-employed, part-time workers, the unemployed or workers who are out of the workforce. Gallup said that December's reading "is a positive change after a sharp deterioration in these metrics in November."
Gallup also reported that the workforce participation rate fell both month-over-month and year-over-year to 66.8%. The December underemployment rate came in at 17.1%, slightly lower than November's 17.2% reading and significantly below the 18.3% reading in December 2011.
Gallup concludes with these observations:
There is reason to be optimistic that the employment situation will improve in 2013, however. Lawmakers reached an agreement on the fiscal cliff, easing some of the economic uncertainty since the presidential election. The housing market is also on the rebound, which could increase consumer confidence and add jobs to the housing sector. In light of these positive signs, employers may be more willing to add jobs in the coming months.
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