NEW YORK (MainStreet) For politicians, employment is a national issue. But for Americans, it's all about local jobs.
Whether it's a boom in Naples, Fla. or a bust in Albuquerque, N.M, finding work is less about moving cross country than it is making a manageable commute. And it seems the outlook is improving. Based on the responses to a Harris survey, Americans are saying their local job market is the best it's been since 2008.
Overall, more than one-quarter (26%) of respondents said their regional job outlook is improving. And while 41% still think the employment outlook in their region is "bad," that's the lowest share of gloom in six years.
One-fourth (27%) of those surveyed believe the job market in their region will improve over the next six months; that's up from 23% in March. About half (53%) believe it will remain the same.
Western residents (29%) are the most upbeat, while those on the East Coast are a bit less optimistic (21%). Projecting their local job markets over the next half year, those living in the Midwest and in the South (22% each) are expecting the employment outlook to decline.
Pinpointing the most favorable job markets, Forbes recently ranked the top ten cities in the U.S. that are forecast to have the greatest employment growth over the next two years. Texas and Florida had multiple entries on the list: Naples, Fla. (with a projected 4.1% growth in jobs through 2016); Austin, Texas (4.1%); McAllen, Texas (3.9%); Greeley, Colo. (3.8%); Dallas, Texas (3.8%), Cape Coral, Fla. (3.7%); Raleigh, N.C.(3.7%), Port St. Lucie, Fla. (3.5%); Houston, Texas (3.5%); and San Antonio, Texas (3.5%).
Based on Moody's data, Forbes ranked Utica, N.Y.; Hickory, N.C.; Jackson, Miss.; Shreveport, La.; and Albuquerque, N.M. as having the dimmest job prospects over the next two years.
While more than half (51%) of Americans believe their household's finances will improve over the next six months, only 25% say they think the U.S. economy will get better in the next year. About half (46%) believe it will stay the same 29% expect the economy to get worse.
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet