As much of the world made a modest recovery from the recession, many people were still worried about their jobs last year. But, those concerns returned to prerecession levels — similar to the ones just ahead of 2009 — according to a Gallup poll. But, 2011 was not as bad a year economically as 2012, so the opinion of many workers probably worsened recently.
Gallup researcher reported the concerns in some countries were much less than in others. As might be expected, these were nations where the recession did not bite particularly hard, among them Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Australia and Canada. Each of these has large reserves of natural resources, or is a financial center large insulated from the banking problems that hit the United States and much of Europe in 2008.
The countries where deep concerns persisted included Greece, Portugal, Egypt, Croatia and Bosnia. Each of these has had an economic collapse or form of civil war recently. There is no evidence that those sort of conditions would make people feel better about job prospects.
Gallup also reports that workers in the largest economies were, for the most part, pessimistic. Of course, the recession did reach many of the sectors in these nations, so the results should be expected. The countries in this category include the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia, France and Italy. Each of these has not completely recovered from the recession and several have reached the point of double dips. The countries where workers were more optimistic include China, India and Germany — all nations with substantial export industries, and more importantly, with government policies to help maintain jobs.
While the global economic crisis put a spotlight on the worldwide struggle to find jobs, Gallup found that ingrained pessimism existed before the crisis and that a struggling global economy merely exacerbated this problem. Counter-intuitively, while residents worldwide were still strongly pessimistic in 2011, the finding that pessimism has declined to pre-recession levels, and may decline further, could be an indicator that some degree of confidence is returning in many economic markets.
While jobs pessimism may be an economic “norm,” world citizens’ inherent negativity about their local job prospects may be contributing to the sluggish global economic recovery.
Leaders should monitor these perceptions closely, as economic negativity reduces certainty, encourages savings over market expansion, creates bear markets, and can contribute to stagnant job growth.
Why the polling firm considers these opinions “counterintuitive” is odd. The jobs market never recovered entirely, and it began to slide again, in many nations, last year and is getting worse this one.
Methodology: Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults per country, aged 15 and older, conducted in 115 countries and areas that were surveyed at least once before and after the global economic crisis. To be included in the analysis, the country needed to have at least four years of data.
Douglas A. McIntyre