PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans name the economy and unemployment/jobs as the most important problems facing the nation, as they have all year, despite the dominant focus in Washington on the federal debt ceiling. The deficit comes in third as the top problem, followed by dissatisfaction with government in general, healthcare, and concerns about wars.
Overall, 74% of Americans in Gallup's July 7-10 update mention some aspect of the economy as the nation's top problem, while 42% mention some non-economic concern -- proportions roughly on par with most months so far this year.
The economy, unemployment/jobs, and the federal deficit/debt are the top three specific problems Americans have mentioned since March, although to varying degrees. The current 16% mention of the deficit/debt is up slightly from May and June, but essentially the same as April's 17%.
Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans naming jobs as the top problem has been on the rise since the recent low point in April of this year, increasing eight percentage points between then and now, and is back to where it was in March.
The percentage of Americans mentioning gas prices as the top problem peaked at a relatively low 8% in May, despite the rise in gas prices this year to $4 a gallon or more in some places. In June 2008, when gas prices also spiked, the percentage mentioning them as the top problem rose to 25%.
Mentions of healthcare have been lower over the last five months -- remaining in the single digits -- after reaching 16% in February. Mentions of dissatisfaction with government have been slightly lower in the past three months than earlier this year.
Almost 9 in 10 Say Now Is Not Good Time to Find Quality Job
Americans' emphasis on the economy and jobs as the top problem facing the nation is underscored by their responses to a separate monthly question from Gallup that asks if now is a "good time or a bad time to find a quality job."
Ten percent of Americans in July say now is a good time to find a quality job, leaving 88% who say it is not -- the highest since last October, and within two points of the all-time high of 90% reached several times in the last three years. Four years ago, in July 2007, 50% said it was not a good time to find a quality job, while 43% said it was.
Americans continue to believe the economy and unemployment/jobs are the nation's top problems, with the deficit/debt situation in third place. More generally, about three-quarters of Americans say some aspect of the economy is the top problem facing the nation, far more than mention non-economic concerns such as dissatisfaction with government, healthcare, wars, immigration, or education.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 7-10, 2011, with a random sample of 1,016 national adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.