skip to main content
Americans Say Economy Is Top Worry for Nation's Future

Americans Say Economy Is Top Worry for Nation's Future

by Alyssa Davis

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Economic issues dominate Americans' concerns about the nation's future. Americans say the economy (17%) is their greatest worry or concern for the future of the United States, followed by the federal debt (11%). Five percent or more also mention jobs and international wars and conflicts.

Americans' Top Worry for the Future

These findings, collected June 20-24, indicate that Americans think economic issues will be the biggest concern for the future, even as the economy shows some positive signs of recovery.

Americans' concerns for the nation's future are generally similar to their current worries. In a separate Gallup poll conducted June 1-4, Americans said the economy is the most important problem facing the country today, followed by jobs or unemployment.

After economic issues, Americans frequently mention war and conflicts in other countries as their top worry, with 5% saying so. Americans' involvement in the civil war in Syria and recent escalating tension with North Korea are likely driving this concern.

Healthcare or cost of healthcare and losing freedom or civil liberties also rank toward the top of the list of Americans' concerns for the nation's future, likely reflecting Americans' worries about the impact of the Affordable Care Act and disapproval of the federal government's surveillance of Internet and telephone communication. Fewer mention terrorism -- which the federal government cites as the reason for its surveillance of communications -- with 1% saying it is their greatest concern.

More Republicans Than Democrats Mention Federal Debt as Top Worry

Republicans and Republican leaners are as likely as Democrats and Democratic leaners to mention the economy as their biggest worry for the future. However, Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say the federal debt is their top concern, 15% vs. 6%. Slightly more Democrats than Republicans mention jobs and wars as their greatest worry.

Americans' Top worry for the Future, by party identification

Americans' Top Worries Consistent Across Age Groups

Americans' top worries for the nation's future remain consistent across age groups, with the economy as the most often cited concern, followed by the federal deficit. Employment and jobs ranks third on the list for all age groups, except for those aged 65 or older, who are more likely to cite war as a top concern.

Younger Americans will likely bear the burden of the federal debt in the future, but they are about as likely as those in older age groups to cite the federal debt as a top worry for the nation's future.

Americans' Top Worry for the Future, by age group

Bottom Line

More Americans say the economy, in general, is their biggest concern for nation's future than any other issue, followed by the federal debt and jobs. Americans' top worries for the future are in line with what they mention as the most important problems facing the country today. These concerns are consistent with Americans being slightly more pessimistic than optimistic in their economic outlook, as well as sluggish economic growth and stubborn unemployment rates.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 20-24, 2013, with a random sample of 2,048 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 margin of sampling error is ±3 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 of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline and cell telephone 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 to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

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.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030