The economy is not the top priority for Americans heading into 2015, the Pew Research Center reported Thursday, the first time that another issue has been at the top of the public mind under President Barack Obama.
Terrorism has eclipsed the economy as the biggest issue for Americans, the group’s annual survey of the public’s policy priorities found, being named by 76 percent of Americans as a top priority for Obama and Congress.
The economy was pegged by 75 percent — which is still a big number, but it represented a 11-point drop from 2013. Likewise, the job situation was picked by 67 percent, the third priority behind the economy and terrorism, but it has also fallen by 12 points in the last two years.
For the first six years of Obama’s presidency, the economy was always cited as the top issue for Americans, in the depths and aftermath of the Great Recession. Terrorism typically ranked third, hitting its low when 69 percent named it a major priority in 2012.
Recent headlines seem to reflect Pew’s findings: The rise of the Islamic State and its beheadings of Western journalists along with last week’s killings in Paris have likely made it a more visceral issue for Americans. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell a full point in the last year, dropping from 6.6 percent to a new low under Obama of 5.6 percent in December 2014.
The Pew poll, conducted Jan. 7-11, surveyed 1,504 U.S. adults. Its margin of error is 2.9 percentage points.