January 21st, 2010
11:22 AM ET
7 years ago

CNN Poll: Jobs number one issue with most Americans

Washington (CNN) - More than half of all Americans think unemployment is the most important economic issue facing the country, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey say joblessness is the most pressing economic issue right now. That's more than double the 22 percent who listed the federal budget deficit as the most important economic issue.

The poll's Thursday release comes as the government reports that the number of Americans filing first time claims for unemployment insurance surged to a two-month high last week. The Labor Department says there were 482,000 initial jobs claims filed in the week ending on January 16, up 36,000 from the week before.

"Today's new jobless figures may not come as a surprise to most Americans," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Seven in ten Americans say the economic news they have heard recently is bad news - and a third say they have heard no good economic news at all in recent weeks."

The survey also indicates that eight in 10 say that the economy is in poor shape, and only 37 percent believe it will get better within the next two years. More than four in 10 feel it will take more than three years for the economy to bounce back.

So who's to blame for the tough economic times? It seems more people blame the Republicans than the Democrats, although that margin is shrinking.

According to the poll, 39 percent say the Republicans are responsible for the current economic problems, with 32 percent saying it's the Democrats fault. Just over one in four say both parties are equally responsible. The 39 percent of people questioned who say the GOP is to blame for the current economic problems is down from 50 percent last January, when President Barack Obama took over in the White House.

"The White House has repeatedly made the case that they weren't responsible for the economic mess Obama inherited last year," says Holland. "That argument made sense to most Americans back then and many still agree with it today. But as time goes on, more Americans seem to be wondering what the party in power on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue has done to help the economy."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 8-10, with 1,021 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: CNN Polls • Economy • Jobs
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Chris - Denver

    I love how the low information crowd spouts off with platitudes like, "we're sick of bailouts and government spending– we want jobs!"

    Just stop and think how much worse unemployment would be if GM and Chrysler went out of business and all the stimulus projects had not been funded.

    January 21, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. Mike in MN

    Obama's fariy tail fantasy is over. The reality that America can't afford his style of government has set in. The reality that Obama's campaign was a stream of broken promises has set in. The reality that the Dems push to pass health care became a corrupt process of corrupt behind closed doors deals to get just enough votes to pass it, for the sake of passing a bill the people don't want. There is nothing in the hope and change message of Obama's campaign to be found in the reality of his failed presidency.

    January 21, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  3. liberal wingnut

    All Pelosi and Obama care about is jamming their big gov't socialism through.

    January 21, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. Four and The Door

    I'll have to admit, the Administration is not responsible for all of the unemployment in America right now.

    But, when they promise to solve it if we let them spend $785 billion ( against strong, logical opposition )...they get the money and then blow it on everything but jobs and the situation gets much worse...they ARE responsible for that and do need to answer for it.

    January 21, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. J D Holiday

    "Just over one in four say both parties are equally responsible."

    I guess 1 out of 4 ain't bad...at least someone understands.

    democrat + republican = Gambino + Gotti

    January 21, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. Fair is Fair

    And what has Obama done about it?


    January 21, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. Mike in MN

    Where are the jobs Obama? We are all happy some teachers and police and firefighters did not lose their jobs. Obama has increased the size of government and with it the number of government jobs. But what about the rest of us. Not everyone can work for the government. The number of jobs lost in the private sector since the stimulus was passed out numbers by millions the number of government jobs created. Obama said if the stimulus was passed right away unemployment would not go over 8% and if it was not passed it would go up to 9%. It is 10% and may be still going up. By my math the stimulus and Obama policies have made things worse than if he had done nothing at all.

    January 21, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Wisconsonite

    I agree that jobs are/should be the number one issue. However, I think it's too bad that more Americans don't realize how integral the rest of our economy (ie rising health care costs, financial instituions that don't have America's interests at heart) are to creating more jobs. I think it's really bad that we have one of the two major political parties in this country promoting the mis-understanding of those facts for their own political gain; ie the Republican Party.

    January 21, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. Shara

    Jobs, jobs, jobs. As the saying goes "it's the economy, stupid."

    January 21, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Uh....too bad they didn't think of that before they elected a SOCIALIST president. We're only seeing the tip of the unemployment iceberg. January 2013 is a long way off. ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES PEOPLE!!!

    January 21, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. j

    Duh! Anyone with half a brain could have figured that one out.

    January 21, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. revolution

    ya think???
    I can't spend money, if I don't have a job.
    I can't pay the Kings Ransom (taxes), if I don't have a job.
    I can't help the people in Haiti, if I don't have a job.
    I can't pay my bills, if I don't have a job.
    Both parties are to blame vote them ALL out one seat at a time.

    January 21, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. james jackson

    why have your news coverage been so negitive about the president. you guys have never brought race into the republicans opinion about the president. i think right wing racist have taken control of the Gop. i would wish you guys will be brave enough to tell the truth. where would be if we would have put the people back in charge that for eight years ruined the country. give our president the time we gave bush.

    January 21, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. LeftyMarty

    If the banks are going to be stringent on lending
    money for businesses to grow or start up, how on
    earth are jobs going to come back. Obama has been
    castigated by the GOP for not creating jobs, even
    though he has proposed a stimulus and things have
    started to improve a bit, but if we just cut taxes like the
    Republicans want to do, the businesses will just
    pocket the money or go offshore , and there will be
    less jobs and less health care, because the Republicans
    don't want health care and want to screw the workers
    break the unions , and take advantage of cheap offshore
    labor. Let's get real about this. When McCain says we
    gotta start over on health care...you read between the
    lines. What he really means is NEVER ON MY WATCH !

    January 21, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Duh. Of course JOBS are #1. However, let me remind those of you who were children or were not around yet, then, that back in 1983 when Ronald Reagan was president the unemployment was also at 10%. And we survived.

    January 21, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  16. Scott, Tucson

    And for the past year this administration has been sitting on it's thumbs trying to cram health care down our throats while millions are out of a job. Poor judgement on all the politicians involved. For one thing if you're unemployed how are you expected to pay for obamacare in the first place? Since you couldn't, would that meant the IRS would fine/jail you for non-payment? If so than at least you would have a roof over your head, free meals and medical care while in prison.

    January 21, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. Greg Pottstown PA

    It was not possible for Obama to fix all the ills of our economy in one year. Obama however has not helped the economy grow at all. At this point we should have seen some hard core sines of growth after spending $787 billion. Some still say that the stimulus worked but we all know what Obama promised and what he delivered were two different things. He has not slowed or stopped the job losses. Nor has he grown the private sector that employs most of us. Instead he just moved right on to his next objective and that is what i think has most people upset.

    January 21, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. SLM

    No kidding! Too bad Obama can't figure that out and realize government cannot create jobs..............private sector creates jobs and his policies are job killers. As an employer our Unemployment rate more than doubled from the previous year.........you think that's gonna help me recover and hire more people? You think Obama and the Democrats using businesses both small and large as ATM machines is going to help jobs? Wake up people it's those big bad businesses and small busineeses that you hate so much that stimulate the economy, not giving handouts to people who don't want to work!

    January 21, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. Jim - Michigan

    It is sad that this administration could not connect jobs as the number one concern. I hope now and following the election outcome in November, that this administration and the liberal left will realize that tax payers vote too.

    This congress and administration leave the impression that they think they are governing with monopoly money and that tax payers can afford to fund every liberal dream that comes up. Sure people want health care, but most of those screaming the loudest know they will never pay a dime for it, it will be a new entitlement that tax payers will provide them. This sense of entitlement has to end, everybody should be contributing to the common good. Sure, there should be a safety next, but you should not live on that safety net for your entire life, nor pass it on to your children.

    I am hopeful that tax payers send a similar message in November.

    January 21, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. pgjohnw


    January 21, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. richp the poconos

    One would think that jobs would be a higher priority to generate money than health care to spend it, perhaps we stupid voters just cannot see the lofty goals for us from those clowns in all three houses.
    I was taught that you worked and saved before you spent and spent and spent, I guess all of those people were wrong.
    Now that the flood gates have been opened allowing unions and corporations to contribute directly we will see some change just like Barry promised.
    I stil want to see our elected officials wearing jump suits with their sponsors logo's just so we know who owns them.

    January 21, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  22. Dar

    Yup, here's some more of that change you Dems voted for. Are you kool aid sippers starting to run out of that sweet sugar that made your drink taste so good last year? What do you mean you can't afford to buy it now.
    It is going to get worse people, Odumbo has no idea what he's doing and you stupid lazy Dems voted him in. Well you got what you wished for. Maybe next time you will vote with your brain and not your....... What am talking about, Dems dont have brains, look who's in the white house.

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    January 21, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  23. Keith in Austin

    What is it about unemployment that liberals don't get? Jobs are created by the basic motive of making a profit. You cannot tax and spend American Business into prosperity! Get a clue PLEASE!

    January 21, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. Vancouver Canada

    I think President Obama is finally getting the message.

    January 21, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. Mike

    This should have been Obamas' top prioriety instead of healthcare, and Cap and Trade ! He and the progressives still haven't got that message even after Tuesday ! ! What, it appears, may have to happen is recall elections, in those states that permit them !
    These people are absolutely amazing ! ! !

    January 21, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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