The Economy, Major Problem of the Decade for Americans

Within days of the decade’s end, Gallup reviews the major trends and how Americans reacted to them.  The four key trends looked at were:  U.S. Satisfaction; Most Important Problem; Presidential Job Approval and Congressional Job Approval.

Gallup: At the start of this decade, Americans’ satisfaction with the direction of the country stood at 69%, near the record-high 71% established in early 1999 that was fueled by a booming economy. Satisfaction levels quickly descended in 2001 as economic concerns mounted, and fell below 50% in mid-August of that year (48%). However, in the first few months after the 2001 terrorist attacks, public satisfaction quickly rebounded — part of a broader “rally around the flag” effect triggered by 9/11 — reaching 70% in December.

As might be imagined, Americans have identified a wide variety of issues as being “the most important problem facing this country” when asked this question throughout the decade. In Gallup’s last reading of the decade — in December 2009 — 29 different problems were mentioned by at least 1% of Americans.

The accompanying graph tracks the decade-long trends in Americans’ mentions of four of these problems: 1) the economy (a category that includes all mentions of economic issues); 2) terrorism; 3) wars (a category including either general mentions of wars or mentions of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan specifically); and 4) healthcare.

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