News / USA

American Voters Rate Economy, Jobs as Major Concerns


Americans will go to the polls November 2nd to select all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and more than one third of the 100-member Senate.   In survey after survey, Americans rate the economy as their top concern.  Voters say they are looking for candidates who will spur job creation and restore prosperity.  

With the national unemployment rate at 9.6 percent, and California's nearly three points higher, voters say Americans need jobs.

In California's senate election, incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer says job creation is the most important task of government.  She hopes to promote environmentally friendly business, using tax incentives.  Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, wants to cut taxes and slash government spending and allow the private sector to create jobs.  

The same debate is taking place in the governor's race, where the former eBay chief executive, Republican Meg Whitman, faces Democrat, and former governor, Jerry Brown.

"We have a very clear contrast between my opponent, Meg Whitman, and myself," Brown said.

"I am ready to give Jerry Brown the hardest and toughest fight he has seen in his 40 years in politics," Whitman replied.

In 2007, mortgage defaults around the country sparked a crash in the high-risk sub-prime mortgage market, creating the worst recession in 70 years.  In the city of Stockton, unemployment has reached 17 percent, and in a neighborhood on the outskirts of town, called Weston Ranch, almost one-third of homeowners are in default on their mortgage.

The crash of the housing market caused the spike in unemployment, and the area has not recovered, says economist Jeff Michael of the University of the Pacific.

"We have a homebuilding industry and a construction and development industry that was a major employer in this area," he said. "It is down by 90 percent.  It is virtually shut down on its back.  And that has had big impacts on state and local tax revenues, huge employment impacts, and all those impacts have just cascaded through the economy."

In 2008, the federal government stepped in to offer some help.  Congress approved a bailout of failing mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But real estate expert John Knight of the University of the Pacific says local homeowners remain angry.

"You have the homeowners who acted responsibly and bought homes that they could afford angry that they are bailing out those that perhaps were not as prudent in their home purchases," he said. "And you have the homeowners who have expected some sort of relief, some sort of help in the form of a mortgage modification not being helped as much as was expected."

In San Francisco, non-government organizations such as Catholic Charities use private funds and government grants to help the unemployed, offering short term housing and arranging job training.  A woman, holding her infant, is enrolled in a training program and gets some encouragement from the program director. "Good for you.  It is one step at a time," she said.

Residents of this facility receive meals and other support.

The charity also operates a low-income housing unit in central San Francisco, where it offers subsidized rent and programs that include after-school care for children.  Chris Callandrillo of Catholic Charities worries that the bad economy will lead to cuts in public spending.

"Because programs are cut, funding is cut for programs that support people, low-income families, that support families looking for jobs, looking for job training, that support child care for families that are out working, and all these things are being impacted by the economy," said Callandrillo.

In California, Democrats outnumber Republicans, with an edge of 44 to 31 percent.  But one in five of the state's voters is independent, and Mark Baldassare of the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California says these voters could sway the election.

"The independents will be listening very closely to solutions, to actual solutions, not just criticisms, and there are plenty of criticisms about the way things are and what has been done so far that has not been successful, but does anybody have any good ideas about what to do next?  So far, they have not heard that," he said.

Analysts say voters are worried and angry, which could lead to a power shift in the Democratic-controlled House or Senate.  A new national poll by the Pew Center for the People and the Press found that independent voters who are likely to vote in the mid-term election favor Republicans.  In the presidential election in 2008, they swung toward the Democrats and helped elect President Barack Obama.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs