Note: For 2023 survey data on problems facing the country, read “Inflation, Health Costs, Partisan Cooperation Among the Nation’s Top Problems”
The public views inflation as the top problem facing the United States – and no other concern comes close.
Seven-in-ten Americans view inflation as a very big problem for the country, followed by the affordability of health care (55%) and violent crime (54%).
About half say gun violence and the federal budget deficit are very big problems (51% each), according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted April 25-May 1 among 5,074 U.S. adults. More than two years into the coronavirus pandemic, just 19% of Americans rate the coronavirus outbreak as a very big problem for the country, the lowest share out of 12 issues included in the survey. In June 2020, in the early stages of the outbreak, 58% rated it as a very big problem, placing it among the top concerns at the time.
Pew Research Center conducted this study to better understand Americans’ views of the major problems facing the country. For this analysis, we surveyed 5,074 U.S. adults in April and May 2022. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.
With few exceptions, Republicans and Democrats differ over what they see as major national problems. Inflation is by far the top concern among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 84% of whom say it is a very big problem in the country today.
A much narrower majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners (57%) view inflation as a very big problem. Among Democrats, larger shares see gun violence (70%), the affordability of health care (65%) and climate change (63%) as very big problems.
Democrats are nearly four times as likely as Republicans to rate climate change as a very big problem (63% vs. 16%). Republicans, by contrast, are far more likely than Democrats to view illegal immigration as a very big problem (65% vs. 19%).
Neither Republicans nor Democrats widely view the quality of public schools as a major problem. Four-in-ten Republicans (41%) and a similar share of Democrats (36%) say this is a very big problem for the country.
While the coronavirus has receded as a major problem over the past two years, so too has unemployment. In the new survey, just 23% of Americans rate unemployment as a very big problem, down from 41% a year ago and 50% in June 2020. The decline has come among members of both parties.
The share of adults who say racism is a very big problem for the country has declined by 10 percentage points since last April, from 45% to 35%. Most of the change has come among Democrats: 49% now view racism as a major problem, down from 67% about a year ago. Republicans’ views are largely unchanged (14% today, 19% then).