Economy's got more people worried

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter

NEW YORK ( -- The economy is regaining ground as the most important issue on Americans' minds, according to a new CNN poll released Tuesday.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll showed that 47% of those surveyed now rate the economy as the biggest challenge facing the nation, up from 40% in December.

The economy has been the biggest domestic challenge throughout President Obama's first year in office. But it had been declining steadily since March, when 63% said the economy was a top priority.

The renewed concern about the economy comes as the nation's job market took a turn for the worse in December. After adding 4,000 jobs in November, employers slashed payrolls by 85,000 last month. The nation's unemployment rate remains at 10%.

The poll was based on phone interviews with more than 1,000 adult Americans conducted between Friday -- when the employment numbers were announced -- and Sunday.

The poll also showed that only 44% of respondents approve of President Obama's handling of the economy, down from 46% about two months ago..

Respondents gave Obama low marks for other top domestic priorities, including health care policy and the national debt. Just 40% give him a thumbs-up on health care, and his approval rating on the federal deficit has plunged to 36%.

Americans are also growing critical of Obama's tax policies, with 53% opposed in the most recent poll versus 50% the last time respondents were asked, in October and November of last year.

Meanwhile, the poll also showed that respondents had a mixed view of president's first year in office, with 48% saying his presidency has been a failure so far and 47% saying that Obama has been a success.

Despite the declines, Obama's overall approval rating still stands at 51%. That's due partly to his personal popularity and decent ratings on foreign policy and national security issues.

According to the poll, two-thirds continue to believe that he has the leadership skills and personal characteristics that a president should have, and that may explain why his overall approval is so much higher than his rating on the issues of greatest concern to the public. To top of page

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