05/07/2008 - While the latest labor statistics reported fewer job losses than analysts expected, the American public is expressing increasing concern about job availability. But those worries are not as widespread as in the 1992 election-year downturn, when majorities at all income levels judged jobs to be in short supply. Instead, today's worries are far more heavily concentrated in the lower portions of the income spectrum.
By a ratio of two-to-one, more Americans say that jobs are difficult to find in their area (61%), than say there are plenty of jobs available (30%). This represents a substantial shift since November of last year, when fewer than half (48%) said jobs were difficult to find, and nearly as many (41%) said plenty were available.
Job concerns are closely related to a person's income and education levels. Nearly eight-in-ten (78%) Americans with household incomes under $30,000 annually say that jobs are difficult to find in their area, up 17 percentage points from the 61% recorded last November. By comparison, among Americans with incomes of $75,000 or more fewer than half (46%) say jobs are difficult to find, up only seven points since last November. Similarly, roughly seven-in-ten (71%) Americans with a high school degree or less see limited job opportunities in their area, compared with 51% of those with a college degree.
Public views of the job situation vary across regions of the country. Concerns are highest in the Midwest, where 68% say jobs are difficult to find, compared with 64% in the Northeast, 60% in the South and 56% in Western states. Job concerns have risen, however, in all parts of the country.
Fully 75% of Americans living in rural areas say that jobs are difficult to find, compared with just 59% and 57% of those living in suburban and urban areas, respectively.
Read the full report Hard Hats See Hard Times on the Pew Research Center Web site.