Personal and Household Finances

Oregonians talk about their personal finances, their housing, and whether they could pay their bills in the face of an emergency.

image: house on top of stacked coins

From April 1st through 6th, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs, including how they feel about their personal household finances. This online survey consisted of 600 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.Personal Finances

Personal Finances

  • Oregonians are split on their level of concern over their personal financial situation, with just over one-half saying they are not at all (17%) or not too worried (34%), and slightly less than one-half saying they are somewhat (32%) or very worried (16%). These results are nearly identical to those from a September 2020 DHM Panel survey. Concern declined with age, with 62% of those ages 18-29 saying they are very or somewhat worried, compared to 24% of those ages 65+ (Q5).

  • Even though Oregonians are split on their level of concern over their personal financial situation, eight in ten are either very (49%) or somewhat (30%) confident that they can pay all their bills on time and in full this month. Two in ten are either not too (9%) or not at all confident (11%). This remains little changed from September 2020, when eight in ten were also either very (48%) or somewhat (33%) confident. Again, confidence increased with age, from 69% (very/somewhat confident) of those ages 18-29 to 95% of those ages 65+ (Q6).

Housing Stability

Respondents were provided the following definition of the term “affordable housing”: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines “affordable housing” as housing that accounts for no more than 30% (or about one-third) of a household’s income. This suggestion includes basic utilities like water, heat and electricity.

  • Using this calculation, one-half (49%) of Oregonians define their housing situation as affordable, compared to 34% who say it is not. 11% of respondents do not pay rent or a mortgage and 6% percent are unsure. The percentage who define their housing situation as affordable has declined fairly dramatically compared to DHM Panel results from 2016-2019, in which 60-65% said their housing situation was affordable, likely a result of the pandemic economy. Belief that one’s housing situation is affordable tends to increase with age, higher income levels, and higher levels of educational attainment (Q7).
  • Just over one-half (55%) of Oregonians say that if an emergency arose that would cost them and their household $1,000, they would be able to pay for the emergency and pay their rent or mortgage on time, while 32% said they would be unable to afford such an expense. Additionally, 9% of respondents do not pay rent or a mortgage and 4% percent are unsure. The percentage who would be unable to afford such an expense (32%) is up 10 points from DHM Panel results from 2016 (22%) and seven points from 2019 (25%). Men are more likely than women to say they can afford such an expense (64% vs. 47%) (Q8).

Demographic Trends

Identifying What Unites Us and Understanding What Divides Us

  • Oregonians of color and whites show some notable differences regarding their confidence about personal finances. For example, Oregonians of color are more likely to be very/somewhat worried about their personal financial situations than whites (57% vs. 47%). Also, whites are more likely than Oregonians of color to have housing that fits the provided definition of “affordable” (51% vs. 36%). Furthermore, whites are more likely than Oregonians of color to say that if an emergency arose that would cost them and their household $1,000, they would be able to pay for the emergency and pay their rent or mortgage on time (57% vs. 45%) (Q5, Q7, Q8).
  • Rural and urban Oregonians show some overlap on how they feel about their personal financial situations. An identical 52% of both groups say they are very/somewhat concerned about their personal situations. Also, there is only a two-point difference between the percentage of urban (52%) and rural (50%) Oregonians who define their housing situation as affordable. However, urbanites are more likely than their rural counterparts to say that if an emergency arose that would cost them and their household $1,000, they would be able to pay for the emergency and pay their rent or mortgage on time (57% vs. 43%) (Q5, Q7, Q8).

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).

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