Job market conditions hit best levels since 2008

Job creation continues a steady rise, according to new data from Gallup released in April.

Job creation experienced the largest one-month jump in March since 2008, spurring U.S. job market conditions to their best level since August 2008.

Gallup’s Job Creation Index, measured at +18 in March, up from +14 in February. The four-percentage-point increase is the largest one-month jump in the index since 2008.

The March Job Creation Index shows that 35 percent of U.S. adult works say their employers are hiring and expanding the size of their workforces, while 17 percent say their employers are letting workers go and reducing the size of the workforces.

The Midwest leads in net new hiring (strong hiring coupled with relatively low layoffs or firing), followed closely by the South. The East and West lag behind, due mostly to lower hiring.

Economic confidence has also increased. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index reached -20 in March, up from -22 in February. The March level is the highest the index has been since Gallup began tracking it in January 2008.

Data shows that the index has increased for seven straight months following a fall to -52 during the federal debt crisis last August.

What is driving the increase in economic confidence? Increasing optimism about the future direction of the economy, rather than a positive perception of the current economic conditions, has been the primary driver of the surge in overall economic confidence since summer 2011.

Gallup suggests that increasing optimism about the unemployment picture is likely a strong driver of improving consumer expectations.

Upper-income Americans tend to be the most confident among the various income groups. Confidence among upper-middle-income Americans ($60,000 - $90,000) increased slightly in March, while that among middle and lower-income Americans was essentially unchanged.