World Remains Glum About Job Prospects

A 2012 Gallup poll of approximately 1,000 adults in each of 141 countries, it was found that Europe continues to lead the world in job market pessimism. Fifty-seven percent of adults worldwide said it was a bad time to find a job in their local communities last year, unchanged from 2011. One-third said it was a good time to find a job, also mirroring the 2011 figure.

European countries, and particularly those that use the euro, dominate the list of places where residents are most pessimistic about the job market. Greece, Italy, and Spain were among the worst places to find a job last year, according to their citizens.
In Greece, a country that saw its economy shrink a cumulative 20.1% between 2007 and 2012, residents were nearly unanimous in assessing job prospects as bad (98%). The percentage of Greeks saying it is a bad time to find a job has soared 30 points over that same time span. 
Spain has suffered and continues to suffer from depression-like unemployment rates, so it is small surprise that 94% of residents considered it a bad time to find a job in 2012. Italy, weighed down by a massive debt load and a contracting economy, also had an astronomical percentage of its citizens (95%) expressing job pessimism.

The former Soviet Union saw the largest increase last year in the percentage of adults saying it was a good time to find work, with 27% saying this, up four points from the year before. 

Notably, no country from Sub-Saharan Africa or the Middle East/North Africa appears on the list of the worst countries to find a job. This does not signal uncommonly high job optimism in those areas, rather, it speaks to the depth of job pessimism haunting Europe.

Job perceptions across the world did not improve in 2012, even as most countries continued to recover from the global financial crisis. Countries where residents were most optimistic about their ability to find work are largely resource-based economies that have the benefit of selling an always-in-demand product, such as oil. The world's largest or most advanced economies, on the other hand, are among the places residents are most pessimistic about the job market. In particular, job pessimism has blanketed nearly every part of Europe, the world's second-richest continent.

Sue Hodge

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