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Poll finds economy most gripping issue to hit state in 20 years

It's been 20 years since any issue has gripped Wisconsinites like the economy does now. That's according to the state's Policy Research Institute.

Thirty-one percent of the 600 residents it surveyed last Sunday and Monday said jobs and unemployment is the top issue government should do something about.

And 19 percent put a more general view of the economy at the top. That means half of Wisconsinites are most concerned about the fallout as the stock market and financial trends head downward.

The institute is a conservative think tank and its president Jim Miller says the concern about jobs is the biggest among any issue they've polled people about since January 1988.

Last December, only 13 percent of Wisconsinites were concerned about jobs and the economy. Health care and taxes were the top issues back then.

Only 19 percent thought their personal situations would improve in 2009, the lowest in the 19 years the question has been asked.

Fifty-six percent thought their situations would stay the same. Seventy-six percent said the country is seriously on the wrong track, about the same as last December.

Fifty-four percent thought Wisconsin was on the wrong track.

Almost half thought the state's economy would get worse next year. Twenty-seven percent said it would improve.