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Americans’ Fear of Layoffs Is at a Record Low

Workers haven’t felt this secure in their jobs in a very, very long time.

As of early April, only 8% of employed American said they were “very” or “fairly” likely to be laid off in the next 12 months – the lowest level ever recorded since Gallup started asking the question in 1975.

That number fits well with the recent narrative described by economists, including Federal Reserve officials. With the unemployment rate at a 10-year low as of March, the American job market is now near full employment, Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said.

The Gallup poll is based on telephone interviews of about 550 Americans at the beginning of the month. Concerns about layoffs, as recorded by the survey, reached an all-time high in 2010, with 21% of Americans saying they were “very” or “fairly” likely to be laid off following the Great Recession.

Other Gallup studies conducted this year show about 46% of employees said their company was hiring in March. Workers are also more confident about the future of the U.S. economy.

The Gallup poll is not alone. Several measures show confidence soared for consumers, small business owners, and homebuilders following Donald Trump’s election in November. That said, there’s been a wide mismatch between the confidence reported in these surveys – which economists sometimes refer to as “soft data” – and the hard numbers on the economy.

Take for example a preliminary report released by the government on Friday morning, which shows the U.S. economy slowed in the first three months of 2017. The culprit? A sharp slowdown in consumer spending. Other metrics show new home construction, manufacturing, and retail sales have also stalled recently.

If workers are so confident in their jobs and the economy, it begs the question: Why aren’t they spending more? If the hard data don’t soon match up with survey data, confidence is likely to fall too.