January 23, 2008 / 7:58 PM / 12 years ago

Most Americans believe U.S. economy in decline: Zogby

Traders in the oil futures pit of the New York Mercantile Exchange shout out their orders as oil traded below $90 a barrel, in New York, January 22, 2008. REUTERS/Chip East

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most Americans believe their country’s economy is in decline and that its cities are experiencing economic troubles on a variety of fronts, according to a Zogby International Poll released Wednesday.

Americans also count five economic issues among the top 10 problems cities face, said John Zogby, speaking at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which sponsored the poll. These include affordable housing, the housing market, local job development, health care and property taxes.

But they are also worried about their individual well-being, the survey of 32,085 people found.

More than two-thirds of respondents said they get less spending power from their paychecks than they did five years ago, and more than a quarter say unemployment has risen in their cities in the past five years.

About a quarter said homelessness has increased in their cities over the last half-decade as well. In Detroit, Orlando, Tampa and Sacramento, more than a third said the homeless population increased.

Immigration is a leading issue for Americans, Zogby said, and more than half of those surveyed said stricter immigration laws will help their local economies. Nearly half believe illegal immigration has hurt their communities’ economies, and two-fifths said any form of immigration hurts their cities.

The mayors’ group is encouraging cities to take action against climate change, and Zogby found city dwellers believe “going green” could help their local economies by creating jobs in the environmental sector and attracting businesses.

While Zogby did not explain which green programs Americans prefer, he said a majority of respondents said they would use mass transit if it were easily available in their cities.

The poll was conducted between November 21 and December 12.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Jan Paschal

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