Americans Identify Unemployment/Jobs As Nation's No. 1 Problem

By Susan Jones | February 18, 2014 | 6:51am EST

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( - What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?

In response to that question posed by the Gallup polling organization earlier this month, 23 percent of Americans said unemployment/jobs are the most important problem, up from 16 percent in January.

The response cut across party lines, with Republicans, Democrats and Independents all choosing unemployment/jobs as the nation's most pressing problem in February.

Next on the list, 20 percent of Americans said the "economy in general" is the nation's most important problem, followed by dissatisfaction with government (19 percent); poor healthcare/hospitals-high cost of healthcare (15 percent); federal budget deficit/debt (8 percent); immigration/illegal aliens (6 percent); ethics-morals-family decline (5 percent); and education (4 percent).

At the very bottom of the list were "lack of money" and "poverty-hunger-homelessness," each chosen by 3 percent of Americans as the most important problem facing the country. Yet the Obama administration continues to make "income inequality" a priority issue.

Gallup found that 22 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., just a point lower than the 23 percent who expressed satisfaction in December and January.

But compare that to March 2003, when 60 percent of Americans said they were satisfied with the way things are going -- an all-time high, Gallup said. The all-time low was in October 2008, when only 7 percent said they were satisfied with the way things are going.

Gallup notes that in its latest poll, concerns about the government have faded since the partial shutdown in October.

"Fears about employment and the economy may be linked to weaker-than-hoped-for jobs reports and flat job growth in the past few months," Gallup said.

"The rise in mentions of unemployment specifically may also be related to declining concerns about the government. In inverse fashion, mentions of unemployment decreased last fall as mentions of government dissatisfaction rose. Now that the shutdown is over and the government has successfully passed a budget and avoided another debt ceiling shutdown, Americans appear to have shifted their focus away from the government and back to the still relatively weak job market."

The Gallup poll is based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 6-9, 2014, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,023 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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