WASHINGTON — The vast majority of Americans say they prefer lower prices instead of paying a premium for items labeled “Made in the USA,” even if it means those cheaper items are made abroad, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

While presidential candidates such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders vow to bring back millions of American jobs lost to China and other foreign competitors, public sentiment reflects core challenges confronting the U.S. economy.

Incomes have barely improved, forcing many households to look for the most convenient bargains instead of goods made in America. Employers now seek workers with college degrees, leaving behind those with only a high school diploma who once would have held assembly line jobs. And some Americans who work at companies with clients worldwide see themselves as part of a global market.

Nearly three in four say they would like to buy goods manufactured inside the United States, but those items are often too costly or difficult to find, according to the survey released Thursday. A mere 9 percent say they buy only American.

Asked about a real world example of choosing between $50 pants made in another country or an $85 pair made in the United States – one retailer sells two such pairs made with the same fabric and design – 67 percent say they’d buy the cheaper pair. Only 30 percent would pony up for the more expensive American-made one. People in households earning more than $100,000 a year are no less likely than lower-income Americans to say they’d go for the lower price.

“Low prices are a positive for US consumers – it stretches budgets and allows people to save for their retirements, if they’re wise, with dollars that would otherwise be spent on day-to-day living,” said Sonya Grob, 57, a middle school secretary from Norman, Oklahoma who described herself as a “liberal Democrat.”

But Trump and Sanders have galvanized many voters by attacking recent trade deals. From their perspective, layoffs and shuttered factories have erased the benefits to the economy from reduced prices.