Thirty-five percent of Americans name unemployment as the most important problem facing the US, according to results of a new Gallup Poll. This is the highest percentage since the economic slowdown began in December 2007 and higher than at any point since October 1983 (41%). Unemployment is the most important problem for the second month in a row, with the economy ranking second and healthcare third.
Unemployment Overtakes Economy
From the beginning of the economic slowdown through 2009, mentions of “the economy” in general were consistently the top issue. In the past year, as the government’s unemployment rate has stayed in the 9% range, the economy and specific mentions of unemployment have traded the top spot several times. This month, mentions of unemployment increased to 35%, and it now leads mentions of the economy by a significant margin (almost 21%).
Healthcare, Govt. Issues Also Prevalent Concerns
In addition to unemployment and the economy, three other issues are mentioned by at least 10% of Americans in the Feb. 2-5, 2011 poll : healthcare (16%), dissatisfaction with government (12%), and the federal budget deficit (11%). No other problem was mentioned by anywhere near as high a percentage of Americans. Education, the next-largest concern, was only mentioned by 6% of poll respondents.
All told, seven in 10 Americans mention some economic issue when asked to name the most important problem facing the country, and the top two problems Americans cite as the most important ones facing the country directly reflect on the economic situation in the US.
Consumers Stressed, Still Buy More
Consumers have a relatively flat financial outlook for the coming months as stress levels rise and financial difficulties increase, according to the Consumer Reports Index for February 2010. However, one bright spot is that retail spending for the previous and upcoming 30 days appear to be on the upswing.
About the Data: Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 2-5, 2011, with a random sample of 1,015 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.