Job (in)Security

The job market has had good and bad moments during its fitful recovery. One month, economists are surprised by the paltry level of hiring; the next month, they’re equally surprised by a surge in jobs. None of this, meanwhile, seems to alter workers’ sense of job security (or lack thereof). Polling by Ipsos-Public Affairs for the Associated Press finds scant volatility on that score. The chart here gives results of a survey fielded earlier this month. In the previous five polls (dating back to last October), the number of people feeling more secure hasn’t risen above 43 percent or fallen below 40 percent. There’s been just a bit more flux in the number who feel less secure (a high of 47 percent, a low of 40 percent). Would steady job gains reduce this fixed level of public anxiety? If a new report from the University of Michigan is correct, we’ll get a chance to find out. It predicts the U.S. will add 4 million jobs by the end of 2006, pulling that year’s average unemployment rate down to 5.1 percent.