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Attitude Check

Attitude Check: Obama’s plan to grow jobs in 2012

Marketplace Contributor Feb 2, 2012

Adriene Hill: We’ll find out tomorrow if the job market is improving or not so much. That’s when we get one of the country’s most important economic reports: the monthly jobs numbers.

We figured we’d get a little insight into the country’s employment situation in our weekly Attitude Check. Frank Newport is editor-in-chief at the polling firm Gallup. He joins us every Thursday. Good morning Frank.

Frank Newport: Good morning.

Hill: So Gallup does its own jobs polling, what trends are you spotting right now?

Newport: Well, we spotted unemployment actually decreasing some in the middle of January. It was 8.5 in December and by our calculations — we interview 30,000 people a month — we had unemployment down to 8.3 by the middle of the month but it’s actually come back up near the end of the month, so we’ll see what happens.

We think the government should be reporting unemployment about the same or maybe slightly improved but I have to give a caveat here: the government seasonally adjust their data and they’re actually going to some new weighting procedures based on some new census data this month, so it’s kind of a crapshoot what they’ll show. But we think unemployment has been fairly steady, maybe improving slightly — at least through the middle of January.

Hill: And what are you hearing from people about their expectations for the job market?

Newport: Expectations for the economy in general is how we track it, and they’re getting slightly better than we’ve seen previously — that’s economic confidence, although that too has seen a slight deterioration near the end of January.

Hill: Now we heard President Obama propose giving tax breaks to companies to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. What do you know about support for that kind of proposal?

Newport: That’s widespread. In fact this is very unusual: we have over 8 out of 10 Americans who in general support that idea. But what’s unusual if we look at the data here is this is one of the few things that the president proposes that has unanimous support from both Democrats and Republicans. I say unanimous; it’s got over 80 percent support from both sides of the aisle, that’s highly unusual. So this is something that I think the president or anybody actually can go out and say: yeah, let’s bring jobs back with tax breaks, or whatever. And you’re going to get overwhelming support from the average American.

Hill: Frank Newport is the editor-in-chief at Gallup. Thanks.

Newport: You bet.

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