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Restaurant industry ranked 2nd-favorite sector by consumers

Good chance nobody asked you for your opinion. But the folks at Gallup asked plenty of other people to rate 25 major U.S. business sectors to see which were most and least popular.

Short answer: Americans love the food industry, which accounted for three of the top five. And they're fond of the computer and the Internet sectors.

But they don't think much of lawyers and pharmaceutical companies, ranking them near the bottom along with oil companies and the federal government.

The Gallup results are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 5-9 asking respondents if they had a positive or negative view of each sector. Gallup calculated its scores by subtracting the percentage of negative views from the percentage of positive views, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.

Why do some industries consistently score well and others bomb? Gallup has lots of numbers, but only so much analysis. This is our read on the situation.

Top five

1) COMPUTERS. You probably have one in your pocket, another on your desk and maybe one in your backpack. We use them to work, play games, take pictures, listen to music, track our money, take more pictures, shoot videos, watch movies, send mail and it's time for another selfie. As long as improvements keep coming, processing gets faster, memory gets bigger and prices continue dropping, there's not much danger of the rep of the computer industry slipping. Rating: +59

2) RESTAURANTS. Forget baseball. Food is the great American pastime. And the only thing better than a nice meal is having someone cook it, serve it and clean up afterward. This is where Americans put their money where their mouth is. Last year, restaurant sales climbed nearly 4 percent to $709.2 billion, according to the National Restaurant Association. That works out to nearly $2 billion in sales — every day. Rating: +50

3) INTERNET. Sure, it's a pain when your system crashes or you can't get customer service on the phone. And you probably cringe at another story about hacking and privacy threats. Even so, Americans think pretty highly of online providers. This is the industry that hooks us up to the Web. Those times when you can't connect? Pretty rare. Rating: +44

4) GROCERIES. Fresh, frozen, refrigerated and packaged food, as far as the eye can see. The average supermarket stocks more than 42,000 items, according to the Food Marketing Institute. The grocery industry runs on razor-thin profit margins and is one of the most competitive in America. Don't like your supermarket? There are likely three or four near enough to choose from. This industry fights tooth and nail for your business. And you seem to approve. Rating: +39

5) FARMING AND AGRICULTURE. Where does all that food stacked to the ceiling at your supermarket come from? Those fruits, veggies, meat and snacks are the job of millions of farmers, ranchers and other agriculture industries that get the food from farm to store. When was the last time you couldn't find a tomato or a gallon of milk when you really needed it? Rating: +38

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