Government, Economy, Immigration Are Top U.S. Problems

August 13, 2014 Albert N. Milliron 0

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans say the government, immigration, and the economy in general are the most important problems currently facing the country. Mentions of government and the economy have been at the top of the list since the beginning of the year, while mentions of immigration rose sharply in July, in response to the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, and remain high this month.

To address the immigration issue, President Barack Obama requested an emergency appropriation of $3.7 billion, which Republicans in Congress rejected. The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed two immigration bills before members left for their August recess, but the bills have little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate or being signed into law by the president. The government’s failure to act on immigration before the recess likely angered Americans who say immigration is the most important issue, and may be one reason mentions of immigration are elevated for a second month.

Twelve percent mention jobs or unemployment as the top problem, down from earlier this year. As 2014 began, jobs, the economy in general, dissatisfaction with government, and healthcare were the problems Americans mentioned most often. But last month, mentions of immigration surged 12 percentage points while slightly fewer Americans cited jobs, government, and healthcare.

In the Aug. 7-10 poll, mentions of immigration, the economy, and jobs as the most important problem each dipped slightly.

More Americans said foreign policy was the most important problem facing the U.S. in August than said this in July, possibly in response to new U.S. military involvement in Iraq, as well as the ongoing fighting between the Israelis and Palestinians and the Russia-Ukraine situation. While the percentage of Americans citing “war” also ticked up slightly, mentions of foreign policy increased by four percentage points between July and August, the largest change seen this month. The increase in international involvement and talks of possible involvement may have led to this rise in mentions of foreign policy as the most important problem.

Seventy-One Percent of Americans Say Non-Economic Issues Most Important

Many more Americans now mention a non-economic issue — such as dissatisfaction with government, immigration, or ethical and moral decline — than an economic one as the top problem. This reverses the situation found during much of the recession and its aftermath, when more Americans listed economic issues. The renewed focus on non-economic issues was first evident …read more

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