WASHINGTON A growing number of people say the economy is the nation's top problem, with the less educated among the most worried, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll showed Tuesday.
Yet even with a credit crunch and soft housing market, economic angst remains well behind war and domestic issues among the public's chief concerns, according to survey results.
Given an open-ended opportunity to name the major problem facing the U.S., 15 percent volunteered the economy. That was six percentage points more than named it when the AP-Ipsos poll last asked the question in July.
"They talk about a big surge in Iraq; well, there hasn't been a big surge over here," said Sadruddin El-Amin, 55, a truck driver in Hanahan, S.C., who named the economy as the top problem. "The job market isn't getting any better, not for the working class."
Twenty-two percent of those with a high school education or less named the economy as the country's worst problem, compared to eight percent with college degrees. In addition, 20 percent of minorities cited the economy as the top issue, compared to nine percent who did so in July. There was no real difference between Republicans and Democrats, with just under a fifth of each naming the economy as biggest worry.
Foreign affairs was considered the top problem by 42 percent, down from 49 percent in July.
Within that category, concern over the Iraq war and other conflicts was named most frequently by 30 percent and showed little change since the summer, while fewer people chose immigration as the top issue. Democrats were nearly twice as likely as Republicans to mention war as the primary concern.
Domestic issues were named by 33 percent in this month's poll, about the same as the 29 percent who cited them in July. That included eight percent who named morality as the major problem, up from two percent in the earlier survey.
The poll was taken Oct. 1-3 and involved telephone interviews with 499 adults. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.