Republican candidates in the congressional elections of 1970 suffered badly from public dismay over a jobless rate that had just hit 5.6%. Yet in this year's campaign, with the rate also at 5.6%, unemployment has practically disappeared as a political issue. Only 13% of the likely voters queried in the latest TIME Poll conducted by Daniel Yankelovich Inc. listed it among their worries.

The paradox is easily explained: in 1970 joblessness was rising sharply; many who were employed felt that they too would be thrown out of work. But now the rate has dipped from a...

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