PRINCETON, NJ -- Asked to name the most important thing that could be done to improve the U.S. economy, more than one in four Americans (28%) suggest creating more or better jobs, along with another 9% who would reduce the outsourcing of jobs. Americans also suggest decreasing taxes (11%), improving the government (8%), or balancing the government's budget (7%) as ways to improve the economy.
There is no shortage of opinions on this topic. All but 7% of those interviewed in the July 9-12 Gallup poll were able to come up with a suggestion for improving the economy. While roughly a quarter of the responses were spread out across a variety of topics, each mentioned by no more than 3% of Americans, the employment situation in the U.S. was clearly the most prevalent thought. This is consistent with the finding that unemployment and the economy are the most important problems facing the country.
It is not clear exactly how those respondents who said "jobs" would recommend going about creating new or better jobs, but the prevalence of this response category underscores Americans' conviction that jobs are the key to an improved economy.
A number of the other response categories involve actions that could be taken by the government, including decreasing taxes, balancing the budget, offering small business incentives, increasing economic stimulus spending, increasing the minimum wage, ending wars, controlling illegal immigration, and improving foreign relations. Another 8% suggested improvements in the way government operates, while another 3% said that electing a new president would be the best way to improve the economy.
Notable by their absence were mentions of entrepreneurship or starting new companies as the best way to improve the economy, along with virtually any mention of increasing taxes on the rich or wealthy.
There are not highly significant differences in the suggestions offered by Democrats, independents, and Republicans. At least one-quarter of each partisan group suggested that the best way to improve the economy is by creating new or better jobs. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to mention tax cuts and, in particular, to mention balancing the budget.
Americans overwhelmingly specify economic issues when asked to name the most important problem facing the country, and when asked what should be done to improve the economy, most respondents most often mention jobs. This focus on jobs as the cornerstone of efforts to improve the economy helps explain why both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney focus so much on jobs and employment in their speeches and as part of their campaign rhetoric in this presidential election year. Of course, the tactical way in which one goes about creating new jobs is at the center of the differences in two campaigns.
Voters' perceptions of which candidate has the better plan and greater ability to improve the economy in general, and in particular to create jobs, will be a crucial factor in their decision as to who will serve the presidential term starting next January.
Gallup.com reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in Gallup.com stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:
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Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 9-12, 2012, with a random sample of 1,014 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 phones 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 2011 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.