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How Americans think about the economy and their lives

Americans consistently rank the economy as the top problem facing the country, but recent polling from the firm Gallup goes deeper. It asks people how the economy specifically affects their personal finances. 

"It was the price of energy, the price of food, taxes, and health care -- in other words, a very direct withdrawal of money from people's pockets is what really hurts them about the economy," says Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport.

There was, however, one exception, says Newport.

"Over half of Americans said the federal debt situation actually hurt them in their own personal situation," he explains. "Nevertheless, people have this perception that the debt ceiling affects them -- and that's a more abstract concept. But other than that, it's direct."

Gallup also asked small business owners the same questions, and got similar answers. One area of difference, however, was on the topic of government regulation.

"The average American out there says, 'Yeah, government regulations don't affect me directly.' But government regulations were at the top of the list for small business owners," says Newport.

About the author

Frank Newport, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief at Gallup and appears regularly on Marketplace.

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