Polling firm Gallup announced on Thursday, January 8th that the U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P) was 44.3% in December, almost unchanged from the the 44.2% calculated for the month of November. The good news here is that the percentage of Americans employed full time in 2014 did not show a steep end-of-year decline as it did in both 2012 and 2013. Gallup pollster Ben Ryan says this provides “hope that the P2P metric may strengthen more in the new year.”

Full-Time Employment

Full-Time Employment

Full-time employment: More on Gallup’s P2P metric

Full-time employment is a big deal to most Americans. Gallup’s P2P measure is designed to track the percentage of the U.S. adult population who are employed at least 30 hours per week (full-time employment). These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with 26,352 Americans that were undertaken December 1-30 by telephone. Adults who are self-employed, work fewer than 30 hours per week, are unemployed or out of the workforce ado not count as employed in the P2P metric.

Full-Time Employment

Full-Time Employment

The P2P measure is not seasonally adjusted. Given seasonal fluctuations in hiring patterns, year-over-year comparisons are helpful in determining if monthly changes are related to seasonal hiring patterns or true growth or decline in the percentage of Americans working full time for an employer. The 44.3% P2P rate in December 2014 is up notably from the 42.9% rate in December 2013, and quite close to the P2P rate seen in December 2012 (44.4%)

Full-Time Employment

Other employment data highlights

Of note, workforce participation among U.S. adults slipped a bit from 66.9% in November to 66.3% in December. Workforce participation is the percentage of Americans aged 18 and older who are working, or who are not currently employed but are actively looking for work and available.

Full-Time Employment

Full-Time Employment

One piece of good news was that unemployment among Americans in most racial and ethnic groups declined in 2014, but unemployment fell the most among Hispanics. The white unemployment rate dropped from 6.9% in January 2014 to 4.8% in December, the black unemployment rate decreased from 12.2% to 9.6%, andunemployment among Hispanics was down almost 6% from 13.1% in January to 7.3% in December 2014.

Standard of living

Standard of living

In a separate report, Gallup also announced that the firm’s proprietary Standard of Living Index hit a new high of +50 in December, the highest score since the index was established over seven years ago. The new poll highlights that Americans’ improved perspective on their personal standard of living relates to the fact they are spending more money and seeing the national economy in a more positive light.

Standard of living