It's the economy, not the debt, stupid

July 20, 2011 at 8:29 PM ET

Gallup /

This is how Washington gets its reputation for being out of touch.

As the debate over the federal debt ceiling dominates talk on Capitol Hill, a new poll finds that most Americans are far more concerned with the economy and jobs than deficit issues.

Nearly one-third of Americans said the economy is the most important problem facing the United States today, according to Gallup poll released this week. Unemployment and jobs was the second most common issue on people’s minds, with 27 percent saying that was the most important problem.

The federal budget deficit ranks No. 3, with just 16 percent saying it’s the most important problem facing the United States.

Not surprisingly, Americans are also glum about their job prospects. Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed told Gallup that now is a bad time to try to find a new job.

Americans have good reason to feel more preoccupied personal financial worries than national ones.

The unemployment rate edged up to 9.2 percent in July, as the economy added just 18,000 jobs. That left more than 14 million Americans out of work and looking for a job.

Of course, the country’s deficit issues probably aren’t helping people’s personal financial situations. Economists already are warning that uncertainty about what’s going on with the federal debt ceiling is hurting the nation’s fragile economic recovery because it’s affecting consumer and business confidence.

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