It is enough to take anyone’s breath away. Gallup reports that people around the world are worried about their jobs. And people in Europe are worried most of all. Optimism in the Americas stands highest among all regions, but the numbers posted by Gallup are dismal even here. Gallup’s research has caught up to the perceptions of people all around the globe — perceptions that are already years old.
There may be a value to the Gallup data if it is used to look forward. Most people who have work or need work see no light at the end of the tunnel. Worries about jobs cripple economies long-term because the concerns hobble consumer spending, particularly the purchase of houses and cars. Often, the worries become self-fulfilling prophecies and the vicious cycle of worry added to worry goes on for years.
According to the Gallup report:
Fifty-seven percent of adults worldwide, on average, said it was a bad time to find a job in their local communities, while 33% said it was a good time. Europeans were the most pessimistic, with 72% saying it was a bad time. Optimism was highest in the Americas, where a still dismal 38% said it was a good time.
Among the top 10 nations where people believe it is a good time to find work are Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, where “benevolent” governments use oil income to make sure everyone has work of some kind. Singapore, one of the richest nations in the work by GDP per capita, is also on this list. For some odd reason, so are Thailand and Paraguay. Perhaps the governments in those countries have rules that allow everyone to work. Of course, that does not mean the jobs pay well.
Who would be shocked to look at the list of places where people believe it is an awful time to find work? Greece heads the list of the bottom 10, which also includes Spain, Ireland and Italy. Recent events in Egypt probably put it on the list. The balance of the countries are extremely poor.
Polls like this one, Gallup says, look both back and forward. But they really are snapshot of the day they are taken. It is only a guess that the attitude reflected in the numbers will roll forward. But based on how individual perceptions affect the economy, the perception is likely to be a good one.
Douglas A. McIntyre
Methodology: Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults per country, aged 15 and older, conducted in 146 countries and areas in 2011.