News / USA

American Voters Rate Economy, Jobs as Major Concerns

Multimedia

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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs