And in other news, water is wet — but there actually is some news to this latest Gallup poll. Public concern over unemployment has peaked at the highest level since we last had a jobless rate over 9%, which should surprise no one. What may surprise some is that the concern is increasing, despite arguments from the Obama administration that the economy has been creating jobs for the last year:
Thirty-five percent of Americans name unemployment as the most important problem facing the U.S., the highest percentage since the economic slowdown began and higher than at any point since October 1983 (41%). Unemployment is the most important problem for the second month in a row, with the economy ranking second and healthcare third.
From the beginning of the economic slowdown through 2009, mentions of “the economy” in general were consistently the top issue. In the past year, as the government’s unemployment rate has stayed in the 9% range, the economy and specific mentions of unemployment have traded the top spot several times. This month, mentions of unemployment increased to 35%, and it now leads mentions of the economy by a significant margin.
The partisan breakdowns will surprise a bit, too. The reassuring talk from the White House has failed to assuage the concerns of their own party most of all. Forty-one percent of Democrats call unemployment the most important problem with the general economic environment second at 29%. Independents split 32/27, while Republicans break 31/32, putting the general economy slightly ahead of joblessness.
Of course, employment depends on economic conditions, and as Gallup notes, almost 70% of Americans mention economics in some way when asked about their greatest concern. That indicates a broad sense that two years into its term, the Obama administration hasn’t properly addressed the economy and has yet to hit on a formula to improve it.
In fact, as Andrew Malcolm writes, it seems as though Barack Obama and Joe Biden are deliberately trying to change the subject these days:
Forget all the futuristic talk about solar panels. Windmills. And the high-speed trains that someday might move a handful of people very quickly at enormous expense.
Americans have collectively ruled on what is their top issue right now. And it’s none of the above.
It’s unemployment. Make that, Unemployment.
Plan A was Obamanomics. Plan B seems to be “investments,” which sounds an awful lot like Plan A.