American jobs and foreign competition will be important issues in the 2004 elections, say nine in 10 in a poll released Saturday that highlighted the increasing importance of jobs to the campaign.

Two-thirds of those polled for Newsweek said those issues would be ``very important.''

More than half in the poll, 55 percent, disapproved of how President Bush is handling the issues of jobs and foreign competition, while 32 percent approved.

Bush had a slight lead over Democratic front-runner John Kerry on how well each would handle those issues.

When asked which presidential candidate would do the best in handling the issues of jobs and foreign competition, 35 percent said Bush and 31 percent Kerry. One in five, 18 percent, said John Edwards, the Democratic candidate who has made foreign trade and its drain of U.S. jobs centerpieces of his campaign.

About four of five in the poll said this country is losing jobs to foreign countries because workers in those countries are willing to work for less pay and said American business executives want profits and don't care where the profits come from.

Both Kerry and Edwards were running about even with Bush in head-to-head matchups in this poll.

The poll of 1,019 adults was taken Thursday and Friday and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, larger for subgroups.