PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans put the most trust in the ideas and opinions of small-business owners and local business leaders on how best to create jobs. Americans have progressively lower levels of trust in the opinions of President Obama, economists, major-corporation executives, congressional leaders, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
The public's trust in politicians, business leaders, and others on job creation in the U.S. is of particular importance at a time when Americans view jobs as the most important problem facing the nation. President Obama has placed job creation at the forefront of his political agenda, pushing Congress to pass his American Jobs Act, and signing individual executive orders to address jobs issues.
Republican leaders in Congress have their own ideas on how to create jobs, focused mostly on tax changes and less government regulation, and the issue of job creation has been at the forefront of the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Obama has a perceptual advantage over Republican congressional leaders on the jobs issue. Fifty-two percent of Americans say they have a great deal or moderate amount of trust in the president's views on creating jobs, compared with 43% who say this about the views of Republican leaders in Congress. Americans' trust in Democratic leaders in Congress on this issue is basically no higher than their trust in Republican leaders.
Despite all of the job creation talk and activity at the national level, Americans are most likely to trust the views and opinions of individuals who operate at a more local level -- small-business owners and local business leaders. Americans also have higher levels of trust in the views of state governors and mayors and other local officials than in the views of national leaders. (See the complete results on page 2 of this report.)
The high level of trust in small business and local government is not a new phenomenon. Gallup's annual update on confidence in institutions shows that Americans have more confidence in small business than in any institution tested except the military, and have low levels of confidence in big business. Gallup's annual Governance survey released in September shows that Americans have more trust and confidence in their local and state governments than in either the presidency or the legislative branch of the federal government.
Americans' trust in the opinions of "economists at major universities" on how to create jobs is only mid-range, an interesting finding given that those in this group dedicate their professional lives to studying the intricacies of the economy. Americans' trust in the views of executives of major U.S. corporations is lower still, about on par with levels of trust in Democratic and Republican leaders.
Americans are least trusting in the views of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who on Wednesday said he too was frustrated by the economy and the high unemployment rate -- although the Fed did not take any specific actions to address the problems. Bernanke's relatively low rating may partly result from fewer people having an opinion about him than about the other people tested in the poll.
When asked, Americans are quite willing to give their own views on how to create jobs in the U.S., focusing on bringing manufacturing jobs back from overseas, and either increasing or decreasing the government's involvement in the employment situation. For the most part, however, the average American has little direct impact on employment policy, and must rely on the actions of politicians and other leaders. In this regard, it is clear that in the public's eyes, "smaller is better." Americans have more confidence in the views of small-business owners than in big-business CEOs, and more confidence in state governors and local mayors than in national congressional leaders of either party. President Obama earns mid-level trust from Americans on the jobs issue, with a perceptual advantage over his main opposition on employment policy -- Republican leaders in Congress.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 29-30, 2011, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 992 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 national 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 by 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.