Unemployment Still a Major Concern
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Although thematically exhausted beneath its parent-category of “economy,” the problem of unemployment has, to a degree, become something of an idiosyncratic pseudo-issue during the 2012 election season, given the polar tendency of its relevance and negative severity. As more students struggle to find jobs, more, inevitably, will become increasingly disturbed by the growing pool oft their peers who are unemployed.
The unemployment rate currently sits at 7.8 percent, and has remained relatively close to this figure during President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House (the current rate is slightly lower than it was when Obama took office). This rate, however, is inferior to the lower rates which were enjoyed during the economically prosperous decades preceding the 2008 financial crisis. While that crisis is certainly responsible for the current unemployment rate, voters are less concerned about rightful culpability and more concerned about finding jobs, and many will therefore overlook the numerous factors impacting this rate when determining which candidate is worthy of their vote.
How important of a factor will this be in the upcoming election? As earlier noted, the economy and unemployment are strongly correlative issues, with the latter being a sub-issue of the former. However, in an Oct. 22 Gallup poll contrasting the two, 37 percent of voters selected the economy in general as the most important issue facing the country, while 26 percent selected unemployment. Alluding to the importance of the unemployment rate increasing during sustained periods of poor numbers, only 3 percent of voters named unemployment as the most important problem facing the country in late 2009, when the economy was dominating the headlines due to the lasting impact of the 2008 financial crisis.
Ultimately, unemployment will matter to voters, as it impacts them directly. Especially for college students, who are struggling to find jobs, the immediacy of the issue is more personally resonant than other political concerns. Obama claims he has sought to address the lingering concerns of 2008’s crisis and that the economy cannot be fixed overnight, while former Governor W. Mitt Romney disagrees with Obama’s handling of the issue. Ultimately, voters should use those assertions as a basis for forming their own opinions on which candidate presents a better plan for creating jobs.