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Americans' priorities for fixing the economy

A box for job seekers to leave resumes sits on a table at the National Career Fairs' San Francisco South Career Fair on July 16, 2012 in San Mateo, Calif.

Jeff Horwich: Our politicians can't seem to work it out; how do ordinary Americans think we should fix the economy? Time for an Attitude Check: It’s our weekly partnership with Gallup and editor-in-chief Frank Newport. Good morning Frank.

Frank Newport: Hi, good morning.

Horwich: Without giving them a list of options you asked Americans, just random folks, to name the top thing that could be done to improve the U.S. economy. Give me the top three.

Newport: All right, I’ll do that. Number one, and by far number was “create more and better jobs,” twenty eight percent of Americans volunteered spontaneously something related to that. Number two, decrease taxes or improve tax breaks for Americans. Number three relates to number one, less outsourcing of jobs – bring more jobs back home.

Horwich: Interesting. So controlling the deficit, for example, is not in there.

Newport: Controlling the deficit was down at number five. Balance the national budget and control spending, not the deficit per say, but try to pull back on spending was in there but certainly not in the top three.   

Horwich: Interesting that create jobs is number one by far. A big Republican line in this election -- I’m sure you heard it -- has been: Governments don’t create jobs, the private sector creates jobs. Could this explain why that line is not working so well?

Newport: Well, it’s an interesting question because when Americans told us more “jobs” they didn’t really get into the specifics. We didn’t probe them; All right, give us a full plan on exactly whether it’s the government or the private sector that will create jobs -- all we know is that they want jobs in general. But very few people, on a relative basis, mentioned for example the government should actually create jobs should by spending more money. So it looks like it’s kind of a combination of things when Americans talk about creating new jobs.

Horwich:  All right, Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup. Thank you very much.

Newport: My pleasure.

About the author

Frank Newport, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief at Gallup and appears regularly on Marketplace.
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I own a retail store, and among the things I sell are triangular flag cases. Recently a man came in to buy a case for the flag that was on his father's casket. I carry two choices: one is $70 and made overseas, and the other, visually identical, made in the USA which is $110. The man debated for a while and chose the cheaper, offshore-made, one.

And that is why jobs that went offshore aren't coming back. Those who say that jobs and bringing back manufacturing from overseas are important will have to say so, not with their mouths, but with their purses.

This was interesting on its own but became more interesting when the story that followed was about automation in the Las Vegas airport. Lots of jobs are outsourced but there are plenty of jobs that have been automated (self-checkout) or eliminated (anyone seen a bag boy at the grocery lately?) inorder to increase overhead. The rich are getting richer and the rest of us be damned.

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