Poll: Unemployment now America's No. 1 problem

Unemployment is now the No. 1 problem in the United States, according to a Gallup poll released Monday

After the government shutdown in October, “Government/Politicians” ranked No. 1 as the top problem in America through mid-January, when legislators passed a bipartisan budget deal. 

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After that, there was a 11-percent drop among Republicans who listed “Government/Politicians” as the top problem, from 26 percent in January to 15 percent in February. 

The new poll shows that unemployment is now the top issue — an increase of 16 percent from January. 

Republicans, Democrats and independents all said “Unemployment/Jobs” was the top problem, but the jump was the greatest among Republicans, from 11 percent in January to 24 percent in February. 

The second-biggest problem was the “Economy in general,” followed by “Government/Politicians,” “Healthcare” and the “Federal budget deficit/federal debt.” 

The poll was conducted Feb. 6-9, and was in response to the open-ended question: “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?”

The poll also found that only 22 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., similar to the 23 percent found in December and January, but up from a 12-month low of 16 percent in October during the shutdown. 

The all-time high on this measure in Gallup's history was 60 percent in March, 2003, while the low point was 7 percent in October, 2008, according to the group’s analysis. 

“Economic issues again lead Gallup's measure of what Americans see as the most important problem facing the nation,” said an summary by Gallup. 

“Fears about employment and the economy may be linked to weaker-than-hoped-for jobs reports and flat job growth in the past few months,” the summary said. 

However, the summary also added, “The rise in mentions of unemployment specifically may also be related to declining concerns about the government.” 

“Now that the shutdown is over and the government has successfully passed a budget and avoided another debt ceiling shutdown, Americans appear to have shifted their focus away from the government and back to the still relatively weak job market,” it said.