From March 5th through 10th, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs, including whether they think the Coronavirus (COVID-19) will result in various changes in Oregon over the next few years and whether they think those changes will be temporary, permanent, or will not happen. This online survey consisted of 601 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Responses were analyzed and categorized to allow for a better understanding of trends in Oregonians’ values and beliefs. The survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±2.4% to ±4.0% depending on how the response category percentages split for any given question. Findings will include a citation of the relevant question, which can be referenced in the annotated questionnaire and tabs at the bottom of the page.
Overall, a majority of Oregonians say that all of the changes will happen over the next few years, either on a temporary basis, or permanently (Q8-Q15).
The New Normal: Shopping, Working, and Doctors Online, Plus Automation of Labor
- The change viewed as most likely to be permanent is “people will order more consumer goods online, decreasing the number of brick-and-mortar retail stores,” with 60% saying this change will become the new normal (Q14). Only 5% said this change would not happen and 25% said it would be temporary. This was also the change viewed as most likely to be permanent in a June 2020 DHM Research/OVBC survey, according to a nearly identical 59%1. It will be interesting to see if views on this topic change as COVID-19 restrictions for retail establishments lessen over time.
- The change with the second highest “permanent” score is “people will work more from home, decreasing the demand for office space” (50%). Only 3% said this change would not happen (Q13). This is also directly in line with results from June 2020, when 46% indicated such a change would be permanent. Older Oregonians ages 45+ are more likely than their younger counterparts to think this change will be permanent, whereas younger Oregonians were more likely to see this as a temporary change – a trend that was also observed in June 2020.
- 49% of Oregonians say “automation and robotics will increase in the workplace and replace workers” is likely to be a permanent change. A notable 25% are unsure – the highest such score for all tested changes, potentially indicating lower familiarity with this trend in the labor market. Men are more likely than women to view this change as permanent (54% vs. 44%)(Q12). This “permanent” score is up slightly from 42% in June 2020. In addition to whether or not this change would be permanent, Oregonians were also asked in June if they felt these changes would be desirable or not (this was not asked in March 2021). 47% of Oregonians said this change would be undesirable.
- The potential change with the closest split between Oregonians who feel the change will be temporary and those who feel it will be permanent is “telemedicine will be the major form of non-urgent health care, replacing office visits to the doctor” (35% temporary vs. 43% permanent). Younger respondents were more likely to see this as a temporary change, whereas older respondents saw this as the new normal (Q15). Interestingly, results from June 2020 (41% temporary vs. 32% permanent) show the belief that this will be a permanent change has increased over time. Also in June, Oregonians were split on whether this change would be desirable or undesirable (31% vs. 32%), though those ages 65+ leaned heavily towards feeling it would be undesirable.
Temporary Changes: Unemployment, Education, and Staying Close to Home
- The potential change viewed as most likely to be temporary is “there will be high unemployment rates,” with 61% of Oregonians responding this way (Q8). In June 2020, 62% felt this change would be temporary, the top such response at the time. Men are more likely than women to think this change will be temporary (65% vs.57%). This may be influenced by higher rates of unemployment among women than men during the pandemic. It will also be interesting to track opinions on this topic over time as stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 reach the community.
- Six in ten (58%) also say that “remote learning will be the major form of K-12 education” will be a temporary change over the next few years, while 12% say it will be a permanent change and 22% think it will not happen (Q9). An identical 58% of Oregonians said this would be a temporary change in June 2020. Notably, when asked in June if this change would be desirable or not, Oregonians were three times more likely to say it would be undesirable than desirable (51% vs. 17%). Again, desirability vs. undesirability was not tested in March 2021.
- While demographic differences by gender and age were largely modest regarding this change to remote learning, March 2021 survey results show that younger Oregonians ages 18-29 are more likely than those 65+ to think this change will be permanent (16% vs. 7%)(Q9). In June 2020, those ages 65+ were significantly more likely than those ages 18-29 to say a change to remote leaning would be undesirable (60% vs. 40%).
- Next, 55% of Oregonians say “people will drive less and spend more time locally close to where they live” will be a temporary change, while 14% say it will be a permanent change and 18% think it will not happen (Q10). These results are relatively unchanged from June 2020. Also in June, Oregonians were four times as likely to say this change would be desirable than undesirable (51% vs. 13%).
Won’t Happen: Simpler Lives with Less Consumption
- The potential change that receives the highest “will not happen” score is “people will live simpler lives and consume less” (33%). Along with those who say this change will not happen, 41% say it will be temporary and only 12% say it will be permanent. Men are more likely than women to say this change will not happen (37% vs. 28%)(Q11).
Identifying What Unites Us and Understanding What Divides Us
- Oregonians of color and whites are largely in alignment on many of these potential changes, however there are several instances where opinions differ. For example, whites are more likely to feel the following changes will be permanent than Oregonians of color, whereas Oregonians of color are more likely to see them as temporary:
- Whites are more likely than Oregonians of color to think “remote learning will be the major form of K-12 education” will not happen (24% vs. 9%)(Q9).
- Urban and rural Oregonians are also largely in alignment on these potential changes. However, a few differences stand out. Rural Oregonians are more likely than urbanites to feel “people will live simpler lives and consume less” will not happen (35% vs. 25%). Additionally, rural Oregonians are more likely to believe “telemedicine will be the major form of non-urgent health care, replacing office visits to the doctor” will be a temporary change, whereas urbanites are more likely to see it as the new normal (Q11, Q15),
- Finally, Oregonians in suburban areas were more likely than all other regions to see the following changes as being permanent:
1Survey conducted May 29 – June 7, 2020; DHM/OVBC Panel; n=900
This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, an independent and non-partisan organization. OVBC is an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation (www.oregonvbc.org).