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Mentions of Jobs as Top U.S. Problem at Six-Year Low

Mentions of Jobs as Top U.S. Problem at Six-Year Low

by Rebecca Riffkin

Story Highlights

  • Seven percent name unemployment/jobs as most important problem
  • Lowest percentage to mention jobs since October 2008
  • Economy, government remain most frequently mentioned problems

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In January, 7% of Americans name unemployment or jobs as the most important problem facing the country. Although this figure is similar to the 8% who cited unemployment or jobs in December 2014, it is the lowest percentage mentioning the issue since October 2008. Mentions of unemployment and jobs are down significantly from a peak of 39% in September 2011.

Listing of Unemployment/Jobs as MIP

As the job market weakened in late 2008, mentions of jobs and unemployment as the most important problem began to rise. The job market continued to worsen, with unemployment climbing to as high as 10.0% in October 2009, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consequentially, mentions of jobs and unemployment spiked even higher in early 2010, when the issue often ranked as one of the most frequently mentioned. As recently as June 2014, when the U.S. unemployment rate still measured above 6%, unemployment tied with government dissatisfaction and the economy in general as the most important problem, when these issues were mentioned by at least 15% of Americans. Mentions of jobs as the most important problem have generally fallen since then, likely as a result of the improving job market.

Mentions of Unemployment Compared to Gov't and the Econ in General

Unemployment ranks well down the list this month, with government dissatisfaction and the economy in general at the top. In addition to those three issues, at least 6% of Americans mentioned immigration, the federal debt and a decline in moral values as top problems.

Recent Trend for U.S. MIP

Mentions of racism and race relations fell back to 5% this month, after rising sharply to 13% in December 2014, amid controversy over relations between blacks and white police officers. Despite the downtick, this figure is still higher than the percentage who mentioned race relations before December.

Bottom Line

The 7% of Americans who mention jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country is a noticeable drop from highs seen over the last few years. This is clearly a response to the improved U.S. job market, as demonstrated by the trend in lower unemployment rates as measured by both the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Gallup Daily tracking. Although Americans are no longer as focused on unemployment as the most important problem, mentions of the economy in general and government remain high and Americans continue to name these issues more than any others as top problems.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 5-8, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 805 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, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses, and trends.

Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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