Who knew the federal government was so unpopular. As was widely noted during the summer's showdown over the debt limit, the most important outcome was not partisan in nature. The true loser was any elected official of the federal government who, whether they were an active participant or not, became tied to a fiscal crisis caused by politicians, and not real economic factors.
The incident was in keeping with and not the exception of a generation of governmental gaffes. And a catalog of hanging chads, Katrina, "too big to fail," among other incidents, has become too much for the American people. Government now has the second most negative image in pure terms, according to a Gallup survey compiled from August 11 to 14. And in fact, by the metric embraced by Gallup, the government is at the absolute bottom for the first time since such tracking began in 2003. When combining the negative ratings with the neutral and positive categories, the federal government had the very worst net positive rating, at -46 percent. Only 17 percent of Americans have a positive view of the federal government. (See full Gallup ratings)
So long gone are the days of Americans looking at Washington as a revered national guardian that the only business or industrial sector faring worse than the government in pure negative terms was Big Energy.
The 10 of the 25 polled sectors receiving the worst rating were as follows:
1. Oil and gas industry, 64 percent
2. The federal government, 63 percent
3. Health care, 55 percent
4. Real estate, 52 percent
5. Banking, 47 percent
6. Education, 47 percent
7. Legal field, 45 percent
8. Pharmaceutical, 43 percent
9. Electric and gas utilities, 40 percent
10. Television and radio, 40 percent
The 17 percent of Americans who view the government positively represents a steady decline since the measure began eight years ago. That year, the tally stood at 41 percent. The number trailed off throughout the Bush administration to 18 percent in 2008, only to see a slight uptick once Obama took office in 2009. That year's positive rating of 29 percent has since trailed off as well.
Conversely, of those performing well, the overriding theme was America's future -- service and technology. The five sectors with the highest positives were:
1. Computers, 72 percent
2. Restaurants, 61 percent
3. Farming and Agriculture, 57 percent
4. Internet, 56 percent
5. Groceries, 52 percent
Many have noted that America's future may lie in the information sectors, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2018, the country will have 4 million new jobs in the service sectors, including those related to food.
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