Economy continues to be named nation's top problem
PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the country fell to 20% in early June from 26% at the start of May. Seventy-eight percent of Americans are now dissatisfied with the nation's direction, according to a June 9-12 Gallup poll.
The six-percentage-point decline in Americans' satisfaction with the country's direction mirrors a 10-point drop in Gallup's Economic Confidence Index over the past month, falling from -25 in Gallup Daily tracking for May 2-8 to -35 for the week ending June 12.
More generally, shifts in Americans' satisfaction with the country have closely paralleled changes in Gallup's Economic Confidence Index over the past decade, suggesting that economic perceptions have been a key determinant of Americans' broader view of the country's direction.
Both measures have been fairly flat since late 2009 except for minor monthly ups and downs. After falling in 2009 from 36% in August to 25% in December, U.S. satisfaction averaged 22% in 2010 and 21% thus far in 2011.
Economy, Jobs Remain Americans' Top Concerns
Despite declines in U.S. satisfaction and economic confidence in the past month, Americans' responses to Gallup's "Most Important Problem" question have not changed appreciably. Just over one-third in June, 36%, say the economy is the biggest problem facing the country, 24% cite unemployment or jobs, and 11% mention the federal budget deficit or debt. All of these are within a point or two of May's results.
Slightly more Americans now mention healthcare -- at 9%, up from 5% in May. However, at 3%, mentions of gas or fuel prices have dropped by more than half.
One reason these results may not have changed much over the past month is that, at 72%, the overall percentage of Americans naming at least one economic issue as the nation's most important problem is near the upper limit Gallup has recorded since 1991 when Gallup began compiling "net" economic and non-economic figures. The major exception to this is the few months following the Wall Street economic crisis in 2008 and 2009 when the figure was closer to 80%, reaching 86% in February 2009.
Americans' negative view of the U.S. economy -- evident in both their top-of-mind responses when naming the nation's most important problem and in their economic ratings -- continues to serve as a damper on overall public satisfaction with the country, now registering a meager 20%. Slight increases in economic confidence occasionally boost satisfaction by a few points, as happened in May. However, the reverse is also true.
The recession officially ended in June 2009. However, economic growth is still sputtering, and with the labor and housing markets failing to achieve any sustained positive momentum, neither has Americans' satisfaction with the direction of the country.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 9-12, 2011, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.View methodology, full question results, and trend data.