Despite the fact that the Massachusetts economy continues to recover and the state's unemployment rate has been declining in recent months, a UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Poll released today finds significant numbers of Massachusetts residents continue to have significant concerns about what the economic future holds for them.
"Large numbers of Massachusetts households are worried about keeping their jobs and making ends meet in the current environment," noted Professor Michael D. Goodman, Chair of the UMass Dartmouth Department of Public Policy and Director of the poll. "Working families across the state are also feeling the pressure of the rising cost of health care and higher education and these pressures are contributing to a broad-based sense of economic anxiety," Goodman added.
According to the poll:
Economic security tops the list of issues of greatest concern to Massachusetts families.
* Jobs are the single most important issue of concern to families across Massachusetts. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of sampled Bay State households reported being "very concerned" about jobs. Over eight in ten (85.5 percent) were either "concerned" or "very concerned."
* Nearly 1 in 3 (31.6 percent) Massachusetts respondents are worried that they or a member of their household may lose their job in the next three months.
* Over 1 in 5 (21.8 percent) are concerned that they will fall behind on their rent or mortgage payments in the next three months.
Health care costs and higher education affordability are also major policy concerns
* The second most important issue of concern to Massachusetts families was health care costs. Over 6 in 10 (60.1 percent) reported being "very concerned" about the cost of health care. Over eight in ten (81.0 percent) were either "concerned" or "very concerned."
* Over half (54.8 percent) of Massachusetts respondents reported being "very concerned" about the affordability of higher education. Nearly 8 in 10 (78.5 percent) were either "concerned" or "very concerned."
Quality of K-12 schools, Housing Affordability, and Taxes top remaining issues
* Half of the households surveyed 50.0 percent) reported being very concerned about the quality of K-12 Education, nearly 7 in 10 (69.7 percent) were either "concerned" or "very concerned."
* Over 7 in 10 (70.7 percent) were either "concerned" or "very concerned" about funding for K-12 education in Massachusetts.
* Over 6 in 10 (62.9 percent) reported being "concerned" or very concerned" about housing affordability. Over 1 in 3 (35.7 percent) reported being "very concerned."
* Nearly half (47.3 percent) reported being "very concerned" about taxes. Nearly two-thirds (65.8 percent) were either "concerned" or "very concerned."
* Just over 6 in 10 (60.9 percent) reported being "concerned" or "very concerned" about public safety. Just under 4 in 10 (38.7 percent) were "very concerned."
* Just over one third (34.2 percent) reported being "concerned" or "very concerned" about traffic congestion. Just under 1 in 5 (19.4 percent) reported being "very concerned."
Additional findings from the inaugural UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Poll will be released tomorrow. To review the detailed poll findings, poll questions and methodological information, please visit the UMass Dartmouth Department of Public Policy website.
About the UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Poll
The UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Poll surveyed 1,207 residents statewide. The Poll was administered by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's Department of Public Policy in collaboration with its Center for Policy Analysis and was conducted during February and March, 2011. Support for this project was provided by the UMass Dartmouth School of Education, Public Policy and Civic Engagement (SEPPCE)
The margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 2.8 percent for the statewide sample. The confidence interval of this poll was 95 percent. This means that, in theory in 19 cases out of 20, overall results based on such a sample would differ by no more than 2.8 percentage points in either direction from what would have been obtained by interviewing all Massachusetts residents. For subgroups of this sample, the margin of sampling error is larger.
About the UMass Dartmouth Department of Public Policy
The Department of Public Policy is an interdisciplinary academic department that offers its students a wide variety of graduate educational options including a traditional and online Masters in Public Policy (MPP) program, online graduate certificates in environmental policy and educational policy, and a joint JD/MPP program in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts School of Law. All of the Department's programs of study center around courses that emphasize the development of policy analysis, applied research, and public management skills.