Public opinion on the biggest economic worries
The Commerce Department reported Friday that the economy expanded in the 4th quarter of 2010 more slowly than first thought. That's bad news for people looking for relief from three years of a very tough economy, and sure to keep the economy atop the priority list. But not all Americans have the same economic concerns.
In a new Washington Post-Kaiser-Harvard poll about their top economic concern, the public overall splits between the job situation, the federal budget deficit and the cost of health care. Just over two in 10 call each the top concern. Responses vary greatly by race and ethnicity, with partisan identification playing a lead role.
The job situation is the top economic concern for 36 percent of African Americans and 37 percent of Hispanics. That's not a surprising choice for two groups suffering high unemployment levels, 15.7 percent for blacks and 11.9 percent for Hispanics in the latest government figures.
But whites have a different No. 1 concern: 27 percent cite the federal budget deficit as their top worry. Only 5 percent of blacks and 9 percent of Hispanics call the deficit the top economic problem.
Unemployment is significantly lower among whites at 8 percent and so are fears about jobs, and 20 percent call it their top worry in the poll. Similar numbers of whites, blacks and Hispanics say the cost of health care is their biggest concern, about two in 10 for each group.
Fears over the rising budget deficit among whites are driven largely by partisanship. A third of white independents and three in 10 white Republicans say the deficit is their top concern. But that slides to just 17 percent among white Democrats. In that group, the No. 1 problem is split between jobs, at 28 percent, and the cost of health care, at 29 percent.
Q: Which of the following national economic issues worries you most?
Whites Blacks Hispanics Job situation 20 36 37 Budget deficit 27 5 9 Health care 21 21 20 Rising prices 16 22 17 Housing/finance 7 7 10 Other mentions 7 6 6 --- Among Whites ---- Dem Rep Ind Job situation 28 17 18 Budget deficit 17 30 33 Health care 29 18 19 Rising prices 17 17 13 Housing/finance 4 8 7 Other mentions 5 8 9
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