Marylanders believe that unemployment is by far the state's number one problem, according to a poll to be released today by the University of Maryland survey research center.
The poll shows that 53 percent of state residents surveyed rated unemployment first among the state's problems; 13 percent felt crime was the most pressing problem, and another 13 percent listed "other economic problems."
The concern with unemployment has more than doubled since last year, a finding that parallels a dramatic rise in nationwide unemployment, which stood at 10.8 percent last month. In Maryland, the 8 percent unemployment rate in October, the latest month for which statistics are available, was 0.9 percent above the rate in October, 1981.
John P. Robinson, director of the survey research center, noted that the concern about joblessness has spread more evenly throughout the state than was noted in a 1981 poll, in which 22 percent of Marylanders ranked unemployment as the state's top problem.
"In previous Maryland polls, concern about unemployment was highest in Baltimore and in more rural parts of the state," Robinson said. "However, increasingly this issue is mentioned in all areas of the state in similar proportions, although still highest in Baltimore City."
The poll also showed regional differences. "Residents of the Washington suburbs were more concerned directly about education than were residents of the rest of the state," Robinson said. "People in rural areas, however, are far less concerned about crime than residents of suburban areas."
About 13 percent of the residents ranked crime as the number one problem, slightly down from last year's 19 percent.
"Concern about high taxes and inflation was notably lower than last year at this time," Robinson said. Only 2 percent of those surveyed ranked inflation as the state's most pressing problem, and 3 percent said it was taxation.
A similar survey done with a sample of Maryland legislators last summer showed that they ranked the general state of the economy--particularly the implications of Reaganomics on the state economy and budget--as the most important problem the state faced, rather than the specific issue of joblessness. "Otherwise the legislator concerns matched those of our present sample rather closely," Robinson said.
The poll was conducted by telephone between Oct. 7 and Dec. 23, and 613 persons from throughout Maryland were interviewed.