Tuesday, March 09, 2010
The results were part of the recently released Northwest OpinionScape report that Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall conducted on behalf of the nonprofit Northwest Health Foundation and the Northwest News Network, a collaboration of public radio stations in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. There were 400 general population respondents in each state. DHM, a Portland opinion research and consulting firm, is also Oregon Business’ longtime partner in the 100 Best project.
The top headline out of the extensive report? “It’s all about the economy right now in Oregon,” says Davis. “Households are being affected across the board.”
The survey covered many topics, but zeroing in on the economic issues finds that Oregonians are hurting overall about as much as their neighbors: 64% of the respondents in Oregon said they were worse off financially than 18 months ago, compared to 64% in Washington and 62% in Idaho.
But when you look at the specifics of where people are personally cutting back, you see a big difference among the three states. In the top 16 categories, Oregonians report being worse off than their neighbors in 12 of them, including:
71% say they have cut back on entertainment
64% have cut back on vacation
55% are driving less to save money
52% have turned down the heat
43% have lent money to someone because they were struggling
23% have had trouble affording medical coverage
19% have taken a pay cut
18% have chosen to lessen health coverage or dropped their insurance
It’s no wonder that a whopping 52% of the respondents say the state is on the wrong track, compared to 47% in Washington and 37% in Idaho. And 39% of Oregonians say that their community is on the wrong track, compared with 37% in Idaho and 29% in Washington.
By far the biggest concern of Oregonians is unemployment and jobs: 21% ranked that as their top worry in the state (as did 18% of the Idaho respondents); Washington’s top worry is tax reform.
It’s interesting to note that Oregonians said the first thing they would cut from the state budget would be “tourism and other state marketing” and “international trade and economic development," though almost no one said they would cut “employment and training.”
That’s a truly confusing message. Tourism and international trade are important business sectors with lots of jobs attached; and states need to have an economic development effort to attract business and grow the job base.
Maybe the recession has gone on for so long and the sentiment toward government is so sour that the baby is heading out with the bathwater.
Robin Doussard is Editor of Oregon Business.