A new survey from Gallup shows that 27 percent of Americans believe it's a good time to find a "quality job," an improvement from the depths of the recession but nowhere near pre-recession levels. The last time Americans' optimism about job prospects reached 30 percent was January 2008.
Since Gallup began asking the quality jobs question monthly in October 2001, the proportion of Americans saying it is a good time to find a quality job has ranged from a high of 48 percent in January 2007 to a low of 8 percent in November 2009 and November 2011.
By way of comparison, Americans actively in the workforce were asked this question in surveys conducted by the University of Connecticut from 1998 to 2000. In August 2000, at the end of the dot-com boom, 78 percent of those employed or unemployed but looking for work said it was a good time to find a quality job.
Younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have been at least as positive as any other age group about the job market, but that pattern has become most pronounced since Barack Obama took office. Those aged 65 and older have generally been the most pessimistic, although not always more so than other age groups.
Perceptions of the job market also reflect politics. When George W. Bush was president, Republicans were substantially more positive than Democrats were about the job market, according to Gallup. Since 2009, with Barack Obama in the White House, Democrats have been more positive.
The recession has tempered the partisan gap, however. From 2004 to 2007, Republicans were often more than 30 percentage points more likely than Democrats were to say job prospects were good. Democrats' positive views about the job market edged higher than Republicans' beginning in August 2009, but never by more than 10 points until 2012.