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Oregonians Worry Their Paychecks Won`t Cover Basic Costs in 2008Salem-News.com
Yet they stay hopeful of local improvements, and eight of 10 people say they will take their concerns to the voting booth this November.
(ST. PAUL, Minn.) - Nearly one-third of Oregonians worry most of the time that their total family income will not be enough to meet their family’s expenses and bills in 2008, bringing the struggle to make ends meet to a very personal level, according to a nationwide survey released today by the Northwest Area Foundation.
Whether due to the depressed housing market, record numbers of home foreclosures, mounting debt or a wavering stock market, more than half of the state’s residents rated the local economy as fair or poor. Two-thirds say they are worried the economy will get worse this year. The poll numbers show:
* Thirty-two percent worry most or all of the time their total family income won’t be enough to meet bills.
* Fifty-two percent rate the local economy as fair or poor.
* Sixty-five percent say they are worried the economy might get worse in the next year.
The reality of these survey numbers is felt across many different sectors.
“Many families are just one paycheck away from disaster. They are being hit with skyrocketing gas prices and higher food and utility bills. There’s a lot of concern about the future,” said John McArdle, mayor of Independence, Ore. “People are working, yet not getting ahead.”
An overwhelming number of Oregonians say their concerns about people struggling to make ends meet will be an issue in this year’s elections:
* Ninety-one percent say they will probably vote in the November election.
* Eighty-six percent think it is important for elected officials to help those who are struggling.
* Eighty-one percent say they will take that belief with them to the voting booth.
Yet, Oregonians hold out hope. For three straight years they have said they believe that the number going through hard times can be reduced.
“Responsible elected officials are always working to reduce poverty and increase local confidence by recruiting or helping to create quality sustainable jobs, because jobs are the best antidote to poverty,” said McArdle.
Northwest Area Foundation has seen communities make progress in moving from poverty to prosperity.
“People are fully aware that the struggle to make ends meet has become harder and more pervasive all around this country and in all kinds of communities – urban, rural and American Indian reservations,” said Gary Cunningham, vice president of programs and chief program officer for the Northwest Area Foundation. “As significantly, the hope and drive we’ve seen in communities to reduce poverty, build prosperity and take back their destinies, is also borne out in this national poll.”
A likely reflection of the rising cost of living, more people say it takes twice the federal poverty threshold, $21,027 to meet basic needs for a family of four:
* Sixty-seven percent in 2008 vs. 62 percent in 2007 say it takes at least $40,000 for a family of four.
* Thirty-six percent in 2008 vs. 33 percent in 2007 say it takes more than $40,000 for a family of four.
For the third year in a row, a vast majority in the state, 90 percent, said they know someone who is working full time, yet is still struggling to make ends meet. Fifty percent said they know people who are working two or more jobs and are struggling.
Despite their own personal financial worries, 87 percent of Oregonians report they would like to do more to help those who are struggling to make ends meet. Among the steps they are willing to take, 64 percent say they would pay $50 more per year in taxes if it would go to people in their community.
For full details on the national poll, including actions people are willing to take to help others, priorities for lawmakers, and optimism for the future, visit www.nwaf.org.
The Northwest Area Foundation is dedicated to helping communities in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington reduce poverty for the long term. These states were served by the Great Northern Railway, founded by James J. Hill. In 1934, Hill’s son, Louis W. Hill, established the foundation. To learn more, visit nwaf.org.
The Northwest Area Foundation (NWAF) commissioned Lake Research Partners (LRP) to conduct a national tracking survey to explore the public’s perception of poverty in one’s own community, attitudes toward the roles of local elected officials, and ways in which to address the issue. The survey was conducted among 4,000 Americans age 18 and older, from February 8-29, 2008. Eight hundred interviews were conducted nationally, and oversamples of 400 were conducted in each of the following eight states: Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The oversamples were weighted down to reflect their true proportion in the country. The margin of error is +/-3.5 percentage points for national and +/-5.0 points for state results. This is the third survey of its kind, replicating studies NWAF and LRP released in March 2006 and April 2007.
Source: Northwest Area Foundation
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