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. Lori in St Pete

    Everyone whines about unions, but when the U.S. had strong unions, we were #1 in the world. Now we're a low-paying service-based economy that doesn't provide the means for us to purchase the services we're trying to sell to one another.

    January 21, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. Tim

    Plenty of work in the medical marijuana states. Nobody's starving here.

    January 21, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. Lori in St Pete

    It never ceases to amaze how the sheep blame President Obama for being unable to, in one year's time repair the damage wrought on this great nation through 30 years of reganomics, deregulation and giveaways to the wealthy. It tax cuts for the rich were the be all/end all of job creation, there would be more jobs than there are people following the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's wealthy base tax relief program.

    January 21, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. Lori in Texas

    Hmmm, let's see.... all those tax cuts during Bush's first year, the bank bailouts at the end of his 2nd term, and people are complaining that Obama isn't providing jobs????? I thought all those tax cuts to private businesses were supposed to create jobs? That's what republicans believe and have been shouting about all year, that corporate tax cuts crate jobs, right? So where are all those jobs and the small business loans promised by those cuts? Oh, right. All those coprorations kept the cash to reinvest in themselves and banks kept the cash to pay themselves bonuses. Keep blaming goverment and let the greedy corportists/religionists return us to pre-Magna Carta times. Way to go, sheep.

    January 21, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Tim

    There is plenty of work in the medical marijuana states.

    January 21, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. daniel

    Every story, from the vastly important to the ridiculous, becomes a forum to name call the president.Too many Americans are spoiled, impatient, vicious brats displaying a five-second attention span.

    January 21, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. The Party of NO stood calmly by for 8 years while the shrub raped and pillaged America, so, why would we listen to you now?

    Wouldn't spending taxpayers money to "artificially prop up the job market" be "creeping socialism" to replace capitalism?

    January 21, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. El Kababa

    Mike1952 wrote " ... after dumping almost a trillion borrowed dollars into the economy to fix it. Ooops! Didn't work. Now maybe they will listen to Reagan republicans on how to really fix this mess. ..."

    Ronald Reagan signed budgets with $1.5 trillion dollars in deficits, which doubled the national debt to $3 trillion. Bush Sr added another $1.5 trillion to triple the pre-Reagan deficit. Clinton added $1.5 trillion, but he began paying off the debt during his last two years in office, for a net increase of $1 trillion in debt. Bush Jr, whom Mike voted for, added $5 trillion to the national debt. So, Conservatives added $8 trillion to the national debt. Since 1980, Republican administrations have created 88% of the post-Carter national debt.

    The economic growht during the Reagan and Bush Jr. years was caused by excessive government spending when we should have been paying down the debt as Clinton tried to do. It had nothing to do with the tax cuts.

    Q: How can you tell if a Conservative is lying?
    A: If he is breathing.

    January 21, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Step One in growing the number of jobs in this country is

    Get government off the backs of businesses that create jobs!

    Right now, businesses aren't hiring, in large part, because they know that their taxes are going to go up and they've no idea whether they should take a chance on hiring people they might not be able to afford to keep. They know taxes on individuals and other businesses are going to go up, making it hard for those individuals and businesses to afford to buy additional goods and services. Businesses don't know how hard that idiotic "cap & trade" thing would hammer them, or how much more Obamacare would cost them. (Fortunately, both measures seem to be going away...)

    The more of America's money and resources are sucked up–and wasted–by government, the less will be available to grow the economy.

    January 21, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. Marcus

    Jobs cannot be created until Corporate America starts to hire again.

    Corporate America found that it does better hiring temps as they don't have to worry about paying for health care, vacations, sick time, 401k, etc., etc., etc.

    Don't believe me? Ask Abbott Labs, they have hired only temps for over 10 years.

    January 21, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. John in WV

    Who took us from record surplus to record debt? Who tells Obama not to raise taxes during recession yet our economy is still in the toilet? Who says trickle down creates jobs yet we still have record unemployment while our CEO's reward themselves for failure and are the richest in the world? Who says our health care system is the best in the world yet nearly 20% of our population has to live without affordable health care? This is not to mention record forclosure and bankruptcy. The American people did not just wake up the day after Obama was sworn in and immediately have these problems. While Obama has not focused as much on the economy as many believe he should have, all the repubs are focused on is kicking him out of office ASAP at any expense and suffering to the American people.

    January 21, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Wisconsonite

    "Reagan republicans on how to really fix this mess"

    This "mess" started with Reagan's Trickle Down Economics. Anyone who doesn't understand that, simply doesn't have a good grasp of the economic history of this country. Pumping money into social programs is not the complete answer, but neither is "drastically cutting spending". Both are needed and to say it's one or the other is simplistic and incorrect.

    And callingpeople names really doens' t benefit the situation.

    January 21, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Eric

    is it suprising that people would blame Prez Obama for this mess. When the cards begn to comedown when Mr Bush was in his last rodeo. People it wil get better. We are in the days of miracles and wonders. Don't pay any attention to these nay slayers!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Remember you right wingnuts: Bush opened the doors for countries to move to other countries. It is time to get them back.

    January 21, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. James Sorrentino

    Mr. Obama now wants to cut the size of the banks, they are too big. I guess there go our jobs. Doesn't he realize this!!!

    January 21, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. little w

    All you Shrub/Chenny whacos owe me for the Iraq war. 1 trillion for the war and another 100 million for the increaed gas prices and another 200 million to the soldiers comming home with lost limbs, bombed out brains, and then the families who lost their soldier husband/son. On top that you owe us for letting the 'pay-as-you-go' rules expire in 2002 which led to Fed spending not tied to taxes or entitlment reductions. You also owe for the Part D drug program. Obama is saint in comparison to Shrub. You are idiots!

    January 21, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Sybil, Santa Rosa, ca

    I expect that as time goes on the category of "Both parties" (are at fault) will grow. This is a situation long in the making, and no matter who is in power, they have driving down the same path.

    The way out is for real change. Change at the level we can most effect. Us.

    I say,

    Register "unaffiliated"
    Reduce personal debt
    Do more for yourself
    Buy local

    and for gawdsake, stop believing politicians. Always remember, never forget, the way to tell if a politician is lying is to see if his(her) lips are moving.

    January 21, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. Video Guy

    It's been two days since Brown was elected, why hasn't the messiah fixed the country yet? He's had plenty of time now, I say everything that's wrong is now his fault.

    January 21, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. single mom

    Gee, ya think? That's what the American people have been saying for two years. The problem is the majority of our political leaders have no idea what it's like to hold a real job. They really have no idea what it's like to struggle to budget a salary in order to pay bills, take care of the family and maybe, if you're lucky, save a little bit every month.
    Maybe the voters need to give them a taste of that in November.

    January 21, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  20. chris

    Gotta be pretty stupid if you think you can blame this mess on this administration. We didn't just get here overnight. It took 8 years.

    January 21, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. Evan

    I suggest CNN conduct a poll seeking to determine how many people (a) trust the government, (b) think that Congress has a clue, (c) think that the president has a clue, and (d) believe that in the next ten to twenty years things are going to be worse than they were before the great recession.

    Maybe the people I know are all dismal pessimists, but I can't think of one person that would answer "yes" to any of those questions.

    January 21, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. hooverguide

    CNN Money reports increase in first time filers for unemployment – and this is no longer prime news. How do we find out how many Americans can no longer claim unemployment and still have no job? Unemployment will fuel foreclosures which will fuel bank failures. Most of we, the people, know the recession is not over.

    January 21, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. jtex

    I voted for Obama but if he and his administration dont fix the jobs problem, I dont know who I am going to vote for next Nov. Maybe Libertarian.

    January 21, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Disgusted

    Obama needs to take responsibilty for the country's economic stability and stop using the excuse that he inherited the depressive state. Politician need to stop blaming each other and focus on the real issues and find ways to put American people back to work.

    Remember Basic economics argue that citizens are the financer of economic freedom, working to support a government that intern develops the country's infrastructure, international commerce and generates opportunity for the people to prosper..

    What do you say about that Obama. Do something and stop pointing fingers.. My vote next election changes to Republican..

    January 21, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. joe richards

    People think the president creates jobs- he can't. Capitalists or entrepreneurs create jobs. Jobs are created for a reason, there is work to be done. i.e. new businesses are NEEDED or old businesses are expanding. People don't invest their money just to create jobs. Money is invested with the expectation of making a profit from from some potential business activity.

    Having started several businesses myself I can assure you tax rates
    are not the determining issue, labor and materials costs are typically the big ticket items. REPUBLICANSN SEEM TO THINK JUST LOWERING TAXES WILL MAKE PEOPLE START BUSINESSES,FALSE! True, lower taxes are a plus, but that simply creates bigger profits which will not result in hiring more workers unless there is more work to be done, and that is a matter of demand for a product or service.

    January 21, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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