Despite focusing on the economy, Obama's approval slides

President Barack Obama wipes sweat from his face while speaking at the Jacksonville Port July 25, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The number of Americans who approve of President Obama's handling of the economy has slid seven points since June to 35 percent, according to a new poll from Gallup.

During the same period, the number of Americans who approve of Mr. Obama's handling of taxes and the budget deficit dropped five points to 36 and 26 percent, respectively. The president' overall job approval rating dropped 3 points to 44 percent.

The drop comes after weeks of focus on the economy by the president, who has traveled around the country touting his efforts to jump start growth in the housing and job markets and laying blame about slow economic growth on the doorstep of Congress and congressional Republicans.

Mr. Obama's approval rating on economic issues has fallen in tandem with Americans' optimism about the economy, according to Gallup data on consumer confidence, which fell steadily for a month before picking up slightly last week.

It's not the worst appraisal Americans have given of the president's handling of the economy, however: In summer 2011, during the crucible of the last fight over the federal debt ceiling, only 26 percent of voters approved of his economic stewardship.

And Mr. Obama is certainly faring better than Congress, which has a measly 14 percent approval rating in Gallup's August poll. Overall, only 22 percent of respondents believe the country is headed in the right direction, the lowest level since March.

Even as Americans render a largely pessimistic verdict about the economy, though, there are emerging signs that the pace of job growth is picking up: Weekly jobless claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 320,000, the lowest level since October 7, the Labor Department announced on Thursday. The drop in claims for unemployment benefits could signal more robust job growth in August and the months to come.

Despite the rising skepticism about his economic leadership, the president's approval ratings on other issues, like terrorism, foreign policy, and healthcare, have largely held steady.

Gallup's poll, which surveyed 2,059 adults between August 7 and 11, carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

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