American worries over unemployment triple

March 17th, 2009 - 10:12 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 17 (IANS) More than a third of the Americans today, or thrice as many as last year, are worried about rising unemployment instead of rising gas prices and inflation, according to a new national poll.
In a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Monday, 36 percent of people questioned said unemployment is the most important economic issue facing the country today, almost three times higher than the 13 percent who felt the same way last April.

Unemployment is the top economic concern in the new poll. Inflation is second at 20 percent, followed by the mortgage crisis at 16 percent, the stock market at 14 percent and taxes at 11 percent.

Last April, 47 percent of poll respondents said rising prices and the rate of inflation were the most important economic issues facing the country, putting that at the top of America’s economic concerns.

“Last spring, Americans were spooked by rising gas prices,” said Keating Holland, the CNN polling director. “Now they’re spooked by high unemployment figures and the growing concern that good jobs aren’t available.”

The US unemployment rate stood at 8.1 percent in February, up 0.5 percentage points from January. There are worries that the jobless rate could break into double digits by year’s end.

The unemployment level is the highest in more than 25 years. About 4.4 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 US today: 63 percent said the economy is their top concern, with health care a distant second at 9 percent.

The federal budget deficit follows at 8 percent, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at 6 percent, education and terrorism tied at 5 percent, and energy policy at 2 percent.

The past year has seen a striking loss of confidence among Americans workers. A majority have lost confidence that they could find a good job at their current rate of pay if they were to look for one. The number of people worried that there will be layoffs at their workplace has also grown significantly.

“When wage-earners lose confidence, it has ripple effects throughout the economy,” Holland said. “Consumption patterns are based in part on workers’ prospects of keeping their jobs or finding new ones.

Right now, American 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.”

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