Public Worries about Unemployment and the Economy, but Media Prefers Deficit
Thursday, May 19, 2011
The largest daily newspapers in the U.S. have placed greater emphasis on coverage of the federal budget deficit than the issue of unemployment, even though the American public is most concerned with jobs and the economy. The latest Gallup Poll showed that when asked about the nation’s most important problem, only 12% chose the deficit, while 57% named the economy, jobs or unemployment.
National Journal examined stories published over a two-year period (April 2009 to May 2011) by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Washington Post. It found references to unemployment declined since peaking at 154 in August 2010. As of last month, joblessness mentions were down to 63.
On the other hand, the deficit was brought up more than 260 times in December 2010, in response to the release of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission report. But mentions of the deficit have remained high in the succeeding months, much to the delight of House Republicans.
Over the course of newspapers downgrading coverage of unemployment, the jobless rate has shrunk, a little, by half a percentage point.
Americans, though, are still most concerned with the economy (35%) and unemployment (22%), according the new Gallup poll. Both percentages represent increases over responses provided in April (economy 26%, unemployment 19%).
The 12% of Americans who listed the federal budget deficit or national debt as the nation’s most important problem was down from 17% in April.
“Americans are worried primarily about the economy and jobs,” wrote Gallup’s Elizabeth Mendes. “If Congress fails to raise or delays raising the debt limit, it could cause economic problems for the country, but Americans may not fully understand these consequences and may instead be prioritizing the issues that are affecting their current daily lives.”
In Media Coverage, Deficit Eclipses Unemployment (by Clifford Marks, National Journal)
Americans' Economic Concerns Reach Two-Year High (by Elizabeth Mendes, Gallup)
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