By TOM KIEMANN and TIMOTHY A. CLARYNEW YORK, UNITED STATES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The number of Americans who are optimistic about their economic prospects is on the rise, and the trend has been driven by the growing number of new jobs created since the Great Recession ended.
The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that more than three-quarters of adults say their economic situation has improved since 2009, and an average of 65% of adults are optimistic that they’ll be able to find a job in the near future.
The BLS’ latest American Job Creation Index (JCEI) survey found that 56% of all Americans now say their outlook for their future job prospects is positive, up from 53% last year and 54% in 2009.
And just 17% of Americans believe they’re pessimistic about their job prospects.
In 2009, only 29% of people said their job outlook was positive, while 40% of the public was pessimistic.
That was the highest percentage of those who said their outlook was negative since the recession ended in 2009, according to the BLS.
The JCEI also found that people are more optimistic about the state of their financial situation than they were in 2009 when the BSA began asking for job applicants’ job outlooks in June 2009.
A majority (56%) of Americans now view their financial situations as positive, compared to only 29 percent in 2009 and 28% in 2008.
The majority of Americans (58%) now say that their financial position is stable and that they have no plans to make any major life changes in the next few years.
This is up from 39% in 2014 and 30% in 2011.
The share of Americans saying they plan to make major life change increased from 29% in 2010 to 35% in 2016.
The numbers on optimism are especially high among those under 30.
Seventy-four percent of Americans under 30 say they are optimistic, up more than 6 percentage points from 2016, and those ages 35 to 44 are more upbeat (63%).
The JCCI survey found similar positive trends for people who are age 55 and older.
The BLS found that a majority of those 55 and over (54%) now view the outlook for the next six months as positive.
The economic data are particularly encouraging for young adults, who are currently the least optimistic generation in American history.
The survey found a record 58% of those ages 18 to 24 believe they will be able find a new job in six months, up 5 percentage points since the last survey in March 2016.
That record is higher than in any previous survey, including the BES survey conducted in February 2017, and is nearly triple the rate in the Bachelors survey in 2014.
More than a third of Americans age 18 to 29 (34%) are optimistic for the first time in their lives.
Those ages 30 to 49 (28%) are also optimistic, and nearly half of those 60 and older (46%) are.
The new BLS data suggests that, although many people are discouraged from finding work, the recession is having an impact on the number of people who remain employed.
In 2016, unemployment rates for the entire working-age population were 9.1% and 5.6%, respectively.
The survey also found a large gap in income between those who are in the bottom third of income distribution and those in the top third.
Among Americans age 20 to 34, those in that group were nearly 6 percentage point less likely to have a job compared to people in the lower third of the income distribution, while those in this age group were 3 percentage points less likely.
The average hourly wage of those in lower income groups was $14.75 in 2016, compared with $15.76 for those in higher income groups.
The most-positive job prospects are for people aged 65 and older, with 62% of this group expecting to be able get a new, full-time job in 12 months, compared in 2016 with 46% for those ages 20 to 29.
More broadly, there are notable gender differences in optimism about their future jobs.
Women are more likely than men to expect a full-year job, with 52% of women expecting to find at least a part-time position, compared, on average, with 47% of men.
The gap between men and women is even more pronounced for those with college degrees, with 48% of college graduates expecting a full year of work, compared only 38% of less-educated workers.
The American Dream is alive and wellIn 2016, nearly half (49%) of those surveyed said they think their children will have a better future than they do.
This compares with 35% who said they did not believe this, and 31% who did not think it was important.