Concern about unemployment continues to rise though general economic concerns remain at the forefront
The December Economist/Ipsos MORI Issues index shows that a third of the public (33%) place unemployment amongst the most important issues facing the country, a one percentage point increase since November. Concern has been steadily increasing recently and this is now the highest percentage to mention this issue since November 1998. ONS figures show that unemployment reached 2.64 million in the three months leading up to October, however the last time that there were so many people out of work, in 1994, 62% of the public were concerned about this issue.
In addition to concern about unemployment, twice as many (66%) are concerned about the economy, a four percentage point increase since November. There is an urban/rural split in terms of concern about this issue, with 58% of urban residents concerned rising to three quarters (76%) of those in rural areas. Additionally, it is Liberal Democrat supporters who are most concerned (79%) compared with 63% of Labour supporters and 70% of Conservative supporters.
A fifth (22%) are concerned about race relations/immigration while a similar proportion (19%) are concerned about crime/law and order, an issue which increased during the summer riots, but has continued a downward trend since then.
Fieldwork concluded the day before the Prime Ministers’ veto on the European Treaty, therefore there has been little change in concern about Europe/EU; indeed it has actually fallen one percentage point, to 7%. Though it still stands higher than at any point during the last five years, it is still low relative, for example, to 2003, when the Treaty of Accession paved the way for eastern expansion, and 22% mentioned it.
Only 1% of the public mention trade unions/strikes, an issue we have explored in more detail on our blog page.
Technical note Ipsos MORI's Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 958 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The questions are spontaneous - i.e. respondents are not prompted with any answers. Ipsos MORI's Capibus vehicle was used for this survey. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in-home between 2nd-8th November 2011 at 144 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.