WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that worries about unemployment have tripled over the past year.
Thirty-six percent of those questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday morning say unemployment is the most important economic issue facing the country today, three times higher than the 13 percent who felt the same way last April.
Unemployment is the top economic concern in the new poll, followed by inflation at 20 percent, the mortgage crisis at 16 percent, the stock market at 14 percent and taxes at 11 percent.
Last April, rising prices and the rate of inflation was the most important economic issue facing the country, cited by 47 percent of poll respondents.
"Last spring, Americans were spooked by rising gas prices," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Now they're spooked by high unemployment figures and the growing concern that good jobs aren't available."
The nation’s unemployment rate stood at 8.1 percent in February, up half a percentage point from January, and there are worries that the jobless rate could break into double digits by the end of the year. The unemployment level is the highest in more than 25 years. Four point four million jobs have been lost since the recession began in December 2007.
The poll also indicates that the economy remains the most important issue facing the country today. Sixty-three percent say the economy’s their top concern, with health care a distant second at nine percent, followed by the federal budget deficit at eight percent, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at 6 percent, education and terrorism tied at 5 percent, and energy policy at 2 percent.
The last year has seen a striking loss of confidence among American workers. A majority have now lost confidence that they could find a good job at their current rate of pay if they were had to look for one. And the number who are worried that there will be layoffs at their workplace has grown significantly.
"When wage-earners lose confidence, it has ripple effects throughout the economy," says Holland. "Consumption patterns are based in part on workers' prospects of keeping their jobs or finding new ones. Right now, Americans workers remain confident that they will keep their own jobs, but many see layoffs in the future at their workplace and they aren't confident that other good jobs are out there."
Last March, a majority of workers said they were very confident that there would not be layoffs at their place of employment, but only 38 percent feel that way now. The number of people very confident that their boss won’t lay them off over the next six months now stands at 57 percent, down 12 points from last March.
And Americans are split on whether they could find another job if they are laid off, with 49 percent confident they could land another good job and 51 percent not confident - a 10 point increase from a year ago.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll of 1,019 Americans was conducted by phone Thursday through Sunday. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.