For the first time since 2007, polling shows that Americans do not consider the economy as the top issue facing the nation. Concerns over the economy reached a peak in 2009, when 58 percent of respondents mentioned the economy as a chief national issue, and has been in a steady decline since.
According to Gallup, which conducted the survey, Americans' confidence in the economy has reached a nine-year high, just as the Dow Jones index has topped an all-time record of 20,000 points.
The March 1-5 survey asked respondents, "What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?" The top response, given by 18 percent of Americans, was "Dissatisfaction with government/Poor leadership". The second most common response, given by 12 percent, was "Immigration/Illegal aliens". Unemployment came in third (with 9 percent), "the economy in general" came in fourth (8 percent), and healthcare rounded out the top five with 7 percent.
"Trump's efforts during his first weeks in office have focused largely on noneconomic issues, including immigration, healthcare and national security," the Gallup report concluded. "Americans have also trained their focus on these issues, but their concerns about government and leadership have spiked as well."
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The 18 percent of respondents who named poor leadership in government as the country's biggest problem continued a trend over from the previous month, when the 19 percent who responded the same way marked the first time this issue reached the top of the list since April 2015. Also on the rise is immigration, which last month received it's highest response rate on the poll since November 2014, with 13 percent.
While the poll suggests Americans are less concerned with the economy than they've been in eight years, some market analysts warn of the eight-year bull market on Wall Street, and the potential ramifications coming for the U.S. economy.
“Investors should now be on the lookout for a fear-of-missing-out mindset that could signal overconfidence and sound the final lap,” Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist with CFRA, told Bloomberg. “Volatility will remain a potential challenge to the intestinal fortitude of many investors and cause their emotions to become their portfolio’s worst enemy.”
“The ever so unloved and disdained bull market might have more upside than even its earliest adapters and supporters project,” John Stoltzfus, chief market strategist at Oppenheimer & Co., concluded. “With the transition taking place in Washington, changes in monetary policy stateside as well as upcoming elections abroad with issues around populism and nationalism, we expect the market will not show much tolerance should it detect investor complacency.”