News / USA

American Voters Rate Economy, Jobs as Major Concerns

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid