December 10, 2016
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Poll Finds NJ Residents Optimistic About Race Relations Improving Down The Road

 RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL FINDS NEW JERSEYANS

 

ARE A BIT APPREHENSIVE ABOUT THE FUTURE

 

New Jerseyans worry more about health insurance, income gap

and personal finances than decade ago

 

            NEW BRUNSWICKN.J. – A new Rutgers-Eagleton poll finds that while New Jerseyans are no more pessimistic overall, they worry more about economic issues than they did 10 years ago. The poll asked 903 adults to assess the state’s economic future as well as their own economic, social and quality of life concerns over the next 10 years. Similar questions were asked in a 1999 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

The poll was conducted Nov. 6-10 and has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 4.6 percentage points for subsamples of about 450 respondents.

Living in New Jersey the Next 10 Years

New Jerseyans’ outlook about living in the state the next 10 years is mixed: only 35 percent think conditions will get better, 41 percent say they will stay the same, and 19 percent think they will get worse. Following Gov.-elect Chris Christie’s victory, 43 percent of Republicans are more optimistic about the state’s future; 32 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of independents have positive outlooks. In 1999, New Jerseyans had similar feelings about the coming decade when 38 percent thought things would be better, while 27 percent thought they would worsen.

“New Jerseyans are simply unsure about how good a place to live the state will be in 10 years,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Ten years ago, about 60 percent thought the state would either stay the same or get worse as a place to live. There is clearly a long-term lack of positive expectations about the future of New Jersey.”

Some Optimism About the Overall Economy and Pessimism About Specifics

Asked about New Jersey’s future economic strength, almost two-thirds of respondents say the economy will get stronger, but the optimism does not extend to perceptions about affordable living here. Almost half believe New Jersey will be less affordable 10 years from now, while 35 percent think it will be more affordable. As a result, 51 percent of residents believe the state will be a worse place to retire, while only 19 percent think it will be better.

Other economic concerns include health care and the gap between the wealthy and the poor. Almost half (45 percent) of New Jerseyans believe health care will be less affordable, and two-thirds (65 percent) think the gap between the rich and poor will grow.

 Men are more optimistic about the future of the economy than are women by a 69 percent to 56 percent margin, and when asked about the future of affordable health care in the state, those earning $50,000 to $75,000 annually were the least optimistic, with only 29 percent believing affordability would improve.

A decade ago, 68 percent thought economic conditions would improve, and 57 percent believed New Jersey would be less affordable in the future. Pessimism about retiring in New Jersey remained the same in 1999 as in 2009. “As bad as the economy is, most people see it having nowhere to go but up,” said Redlawsk. “At the same time, New Jerseyans are deeply pessimistic about affordability and New Jersey as a place to retire, and have been for years. There are few if any bright spots right now.”

Race Relations and Conditions in the Cities

Residents believe that race relations will improve over the next 10 years, with 58 percent optimistic (compared to 52 percent in 1999) and only 19 percent pessimistic. Democrats (61 percent) and independents (58 percent) are more optimistic than Republicans (53 percent). Latinos (63 percent) are more hopeful than whites (61 percent) and blacks (46 percent).  

            New Jerseyans are mixed on conditions in the state’s cities, with 40 percent saying they will worsen and 39 percent saying they will improve. The respective figures were 39 percent and 44 percent in 1999. Latino respondents (59 percent) are the most positive, and whites (32 percent) the most negative. Blacks (44 percent) fall in between.

New Jerseyans More Pessimistic About Personal Situation

            New Jerseyans are more pessimistic about their own situations than they were a decade ago. Just about half anticipate their job situations and incomes will improve, compared to 58 percent and 65 percent, respectively, in 1999. At 18 percent, more than three times as many current respondents expect their incomes to worsen in the coming decade than in the earlier group.

New Jerseyans also have mixed feelings about prospects for their own health care. Only 34 percent of all respondents expect their access to good-quality health care to improve, while 36 percent said they expect it to stay the same, and 25 percent expect decreased health care availability and quality. Almost two-thirds of younger respondents (ages 18 to 34) are worried “a lot” about availability, compared to just over 50 percent of older residents. Overall, concerns are up substantially since the earlier poll, when 43 percent of all respondents said they worried “a lot” about health care, compared to 56 percent today.

Age also is a factor in optimistic or pessimistic outlooks, and younger respondents tend to be more upbeat, Redlawsk noted. About 74 percent of those aged 18-34 anticipate improvement in their jobs and 69 percent expect better incomes. Though they worry about health care quality and availability, only 24 percent expect it to be worse in the future.

Despite their concerns about New Jersey’s future, Democrats are more optimistic about their personal situations than are Republicans. Only 11 percent of Democrats say their income will decline, compared to 21 percent of Republicans. Similarly, 40 percent of Democrats anticipate better access to good-quality healthcare in 10 years compared to 23 percent of Republicans.

New Jerseyans Worry, Worry, Worry

            Although New Jerseyans are fairly optimistic about their personal futures, they continue to worry – 46 percent worry “a lot,” about having enough money to live comfortably, 55 percent worry about health care and 50 percent worry about sufficient retirement funds. Women are more negative about their personal futures in terms of having sufficient money to live comfortably, retire and retain access to good-quality health care.

Overall, New Jerseyans worry more now about their future than they did in 1999. Today, 46 percent worry “a lot” about whether they will have enough money to live comfortably, compared to only 27 percent a decade ago. Insecurity about retirement is also greater in 2009. New Jerseyans are 22 points more likely to say they worry “a lot” about having enough money for retirement now than 10 years ago, 55 percent to 33 percent.

 

 

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Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Office of Media Relations

 

Contact: Steve Manas

smanas@ur.rutgers.edu

732-932-7084, ext. 612

 

 


STORY TAGS: race, relations, racism, community, new jersey, nj, tension, optimism, future, poll, residents, rutgers, poll



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