Americans' unemployment concerns worst in 28 years
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.
A new Gallup Poll out this morning finds more Americans saying unemployment is the most important issue than at any time in nearly three decades, a span involving five presidents.
Thirty-five percent now say that.
And Americans don't seem fooled either by the latest national unemployment rate of 9%.
It drifted down there last month from 9.4% not because a puny 36,000 new jobs were created, but because so many thousands of Americans gave up looking for work, thus removing themselves from that bellwether unemployment count.
People with a memory going all the way back to 2010 recall Vice President Biden's emphatic repeated promises that the Recovery Summer would produce hundreds of thousands of new jobs every single sunny month.
The national unemployment rate has been at or above 9% since the fourth month of the Obama era.
Of course, the entire economic problem is clearly the fault of Obama's predecessor president.
Obama recently agreed to extend the Republican's signature tax cuts in desperate hope they would stimulate the economy more than his $787 billion of stimulus spending that was going to hold unemployment below 8% but didn't come close.
Not surprisingly, Gallup has found the economy a major concern throughout the recession. But in the last two months unemployment has surged into the top concern spot by a considerable margin. The general economy is rated the top concern by 29% with healthcare trailing at 16% and dissatisfaction with government at 12%.
The federal deficit that so many D.C. pols are talking up these days comes in No. 5 at 11%.
Egypt and Hosni Mubarak's forced retirement, the topic that has dominated broadcast news for two weeks now and even drew the presence of Katie Couric, doesn't show up on the list of concerns.
There are 634 days left before the next national election. If unemployment remains a top voter concern anywhere close to that time, it could cause additional unemployment -- in the ranks of Washington politicians.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo: Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press (Obama waves at the screen during a teleconference in Michigan, Feb. 10, 2011); Larry Downing / Reuters (Obama and Biden share a large laugh).