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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Top American Concerns- Jobs, Economy, and Government



According to a recent Gallop Poll 20% of Americans are worried about jobs, 19% on how government functions, and 17% about the nature of the economy. Over the past year all three have switched places as main American concerns and appear to be somewhat tied in a race of sprints and walks with each coming out on top at one time or another.  Some are saying it is the economy and others are indicating it is the employment rate-all three numbers are likely associated.

Certainly there is no denying the connection between the employment rate and the strength of the economy. A strong economy is able to create jobs and keep people employed. Generally, as the economy improves so does opportunities for gainful employment. Employment rate is a major symptom of economic strength and can fluctuate as the economy shifts gears. 

However, the numbers released by Gallop indicate that the economy, employment, and perception of government are important to Americans. Research by Heinz Welsch found that life satisfaction is negatively associated with unemployment and positively associated with growth (2011). As the economic engine speeds up, so does the satisfaction of citizens and this is an obvious benefit to everyone.

Likewise, other research supports the concept that trust in local government is associated with overall satisfaction and often results in residence retention (Van Ryzin, et. al. 2004). The New York study helps highlight how governmental functioning impacts satisfaction and may run off into other areas such as employment numbers and economic strength. 

Over the recession employment growth has been based primarily in small business. Further research by Glaeser & Kerr (2010) helps us understand that many small businesses lead to greater job growth than a few large employers alone. Revitalizing small business can have a direct impact on economic growth and in turn the employment rate. The same can be said for cities and national economics.

What we may find through the Gallop study is that as the economy speeds up and more jobs are created that concerns of government effectiveness are likely to decline while citizen satisfaction rises. Of course there are no perfect solutions and there are many confounding variables that go into the development of a nation. Many of the variables are associated with each other in one way or another but do not have a one-to-one relationship.  Focusing on the economy and the employment numbers seem to improve perception of government effectiveness and therefore a proper place for discussion.

Glaeser, E. & Kerr, W. (2010). The secret to job growth: think small. Harvard Business Review, 88, (7/8). 

Riffkin, R. (May 19, 2014). Jobs, Government, and Economy Remain Top U.S. Problems. Gallup Politics. Retrieved May 20th, 2014 from http://www.gallup.com/poll/169289/jobs-government-economy-remain-top-problems.aspx

Van Ryzin, G. et. al. (2004). Drivers and consequences of citizen satisfaction: an application of American customer satisfaction index model to New York City. Public Administration Review, 64 (3). 

Welsch, H. (2011). The magic triangle of macroeconomics: how do European countries score? Oxford Economic Papers, 63 (1).

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