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Survey: ‘Unemployment’ Americans’ No. 1 concern

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Forget immigration reform, the budget deficits and increasing the minimum wage, all issues that seem to take up the most time in Congress these days. Americans’ number one concern is finding a job.

That’s according to the latest issues survey by Gallup, which found that unemployment now tops the list of concerns held by a majority of us.

“Americans have a new No. 1 problem. Nearly one in four Americans mention jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country, up from 16% in January. The government and politicians had topped the list since the government shutdown in October,” said Gallup, in a summary of its poll, taken Feb. 6-9.

Before last fall, one of two issues – jobs or the economy – topped the list, Gallup said, as the “most important problem” facing the country as far back as 2008, when the nation was in the throes of the Great Recession.

Those two issues were briefly displaced by Americans’ displeasure with Congress – a rating that coincided with last fall’s brief government shutdown. In the latest survey, 23 percent of respondents said unemployment was their major concern, followed by 20 percent who cited the “economy in general.” Nineteen percent cited dissatisfaction with Congress/government.

Healthcare continues to remain a top concern for Americans, with 15 percent citing it as the most important.

Further down the list: 8 percent cited the federal budget deficit as important; 6 percent cited immigration; 3 percent think America’s moral/ethical issues, education and poverty problems are most important.

“For Democrats, unemployment is clearly the top U.S. problem, with the economy, government dysfunction, and healthcare occupying a second tier of importance. Republicans place highest importance on unemployment and the economy, with healthcare and government in the third and fourth spots, respectively,” Gallup said. “Independents prioritize unemployment, government, and the economy, with healthcare a distant fourth.”

Overall, less than one-quarter of Americans – 22 percent – said they were satisfied with the way things are going in the country. That’s down a percentage point from last month, Gallup said, but it is up from a low of 16 percent in October, during the government’s 17-day shutdown.

“Economic issues again lead Gallup's measure of what Americans see as the most important problem facing the nation,” said the survey firm. “Concerns about the government, at least as measured by responses to this open-ended question, have faded…”