The job situation remains the public’s primary economic concern. In a December survey, 47% of Americans cited the job situation as the economic issue that worries them most; far fewer cited the federal budget deficit (19%), rising prices (15%) or problems in the financial markets (14%). It is not hard to see why when Americans are overwhelmingly pessimistic about the availability of jobs. Fully 79% of the public says that jobs are difficult to find in their community. Just 14% say there are plenty of jobs available. The perceived availability of jobs is noticeably worse than it was in February 2008, when the public saw jobs as difficult to find rather than plentiful by a 53%-to-34% margin. On an even more personal level, two thirds of Americans say that jobs are difficult to find in their particular line of work, up from 46% in February 2008. Moreover, 46% of Americans say there has been a time when they or someone in their household has been without a job and looking for work. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.