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PROFITS, UNEMPLOYMENT, FEDERAL DEFICIT: GALLUP SURVEY SHOWS PUBLIC DOESN'T UNDERSTAND BASIC ECONOMIC CONCEPTS

 PROFITS, UNEMPLOYMENT, FEDERAL DEFICIT: GALLUP SURVEY SHOWS PUBLIC DOESN'T UNDERSTAND BASIC ECONOMIC CONCEPTS
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- A national Gallup survey released today at a press conference at the New York Stock Exchange shows that adults and students in high school and college need and want more education on fundamental concepts of economics, said Fred L. Fox, executive director of the Pennsylvania Council on Economic Education.
 Interest and concern with economic issues top every public opinion poll, but the Gallup survey shows a woeful lack of understanding of the underlying economic concepts, said Fox.
 "The significance of this survey is the degree to which it shows the potential of economic illiteracy to misshape public opinion about the economy and proposed solutions to economic problems," Fox continued.
 The public is quite vocal in advocating economic policies to deal with the federal budget deficit, for example. Yet, only one of every two people surveyed could define a budget deficit, and less than one in four knew the size of the deficit.
 Only 36 percent knew the basic purpose of profit in an economy.
 Unemployment was the greatest concern to those surveyed. Most thought the rate was 14 percent, nearly twice the national rate when the survey was taken in March 1992.
 Nearly half of adults questioned did not know the rate of inflation, and only one in 10 could give the rate at the time of the survey (3 percent).
 There were also some bright spots.
 About two-thirds of the public recognized that an increase in productivity was the factor most likely to increase the wages of workers. An equal percentage understood that supply and demand, not government, determine prices of most products in competitive markets.
 "Economic literacy is a vital ingredient of an informed citizenry and a competitive workforce," said Harriet G. Weiss, president of Newtown Forms, and member of the Pennsylvania Council on Economic Education's executive committee. "We obviously need to increase economics instruction in our schools."
 The lack of economic literacy is not surprising: seven of 10 adults surveyed never had economics instruction in high school.
 Of the high school students interviewed, half reported taking steps in the previous six months to learn more about how the economy works.
 In addition, virtually all (96-97 percent) of those interviewed thought more economics should be taught in the nation's schools.
 "Economics is growing in importance in the curriculum of our nation's schools," said Stephen Buckles, president of the National Council on Economic Education.
 The Pennsylvania Council on Economic Education is part of a national network, including the National Council, other state councils, and more than 275 centers for economic education based at colleges and universities. Centers for economic education in Pennsylvania are housed at Temple University, Lehigh University, University of Scranton, Penn State Harrisburg, IUP, Clarion University, University of Pittsburgh, Butler County Community College and Gannon University.
 Together this network brings economic education to the classroom through teacher training, curriculum development, instructional materials and evaluation and assessment tests.
 Last year, the Pennsylvania Council and its affiliated centers trained more than 5,000 teachers in economics and appropriate teaching strategies to make it come alive in the classroom, according to Fox.
 "A strong and effective program of economic education in the nation's schools is absolutely necessary if we are to have a workforce that will be competitive in the 21st century," said Weiss.
 The survey was conducted jointly by William Walstad, director of the National Center for Research in Economic Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Gallup organization.
 In March and April of 1992, 1,006 heads of households, 300 high school seniors and 300 college students, selected by national random sample, were interviewed. At the 95 percent confidence level, error range is plus or minus 3 percent for heads of households and plus or minus 5.6 percent for high school and college students.
 Sponsoring the survey were the National Council on Economic Education, the Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation, the Federal Reserve Banks, the National Federation of Independent Business Foundation, Stone Manufacturing Company, Union Carbide Corporation and W. Roberts Wood.
 The Pennsylvania Council on Economic Education was formed in 1978 by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. A partnership of business, agriculture, labor, education and government, its mission is to improve and increase understanding of America's economic system.
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 /CONTACT: Fred L. Fox of the Pennsylvania Council on Economic Education, 717-232-5581/ CO: Pennsylvania Council on Economic Education ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU: ECO


JS-MK -- PH035 -- 8153 09/10/92 15:36 EDT
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Date:Sep 10, 1992
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