Americans are increasingly focused on the flagging jobs situation, but broadly skeptical about the most frequently discussed remedies, according to a new poll by The Washington Post and Pew Research Center.
As the stiff debate about the country’s ballooning federal budget deficit raged over the past few months, debt was gaining on jobs as the single most important economic problem for the country. But public opinion has tilted back, with Democrats setting their sights firmly on the bleak employment situation.
In the new poll, 43 percent say the jobs situation is their top economic concern, about double the number saying it’s the federal budget deficit. With unemployment at 9 percent or higher for 26 of the last 28 months, President Obama will roll out plans for jobs and the economy in an address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday night.
One challenge for the president — and for congressional Republicans — is that the public appears increasingly skeptical about a variety of ideas for addressing jobs.
Large majorities say cutting income taxes, business taxes, the federal budget and boosting spending on infrastructure would help the job situation, but far fewer say these would help “a lot.” And the number of Americans saying they won’t help are up from last year.
Just 24 percent say cutting income taxes would provide a big boost in jobs, and more, 35 percent say such a move wouldn’t help a bit. Among Democrats and independents alike, 39 percent say tax cuts won’t alleviate the jobs situation at all. For independents, this is 11 points higher than it was in June 2010. (The poll did not specify whether these would be across-the-board tax cuts, or targeted ones.)
Somewhat fewer Americans are sure that business taxes and budget cuts would help. More than a quarter say these efforts would not help at all, up significantly since last summer. About a third of Democrats and three in 10 independents think these ideas won’t work.
By contrast, support has held up for spending on public works, such as roads and bridges. Some 36 percent say such a move would help a lot, compared with 21 percent who say “not at all.” As are their party’s leaders, however, Republicans are much more likely than others to reject such spending. About a third of Republicans say this won’t work, up from last summer.
Beyond specific remedies, Democrats and independents are significantly more focused on jobs than are Republicans. Fully 55 percent of Democrats call jobs their top worry (up from 43 percent) as do 41 percent of independents. Republicans split about evenly between the budget deficit and jobs as their top worry, 35 to 31 percent.
Read the full poll results.