From September 13-21, 2022, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs, including beliefs and attitudes about the state of the economy in Oregon. A description of the methodology used for the research is provided below.
The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire (Q3-6, Q8). Due to rounding, the percentages reported below may not add to 100% or compare exactly to the percentages for the same question in the annotated questionnaire or tabs. Subgroup variations between BIPOC and white Oregonians; rural and urban residents; and age groups have been of particular interest to individuals and organizations and are provided in the Demographic Trends section below.
A Majority of Oregonians are Worried About Their Financial Situation
Nearly two-thirds of Oregonians say they are very (26%) or somewhat (38%) worried about their personal financial situation. Just over one-third say they are not too worried (24%) or not at all worried (11%)(Q6).
Levels of worry are consistent with those seen in a January 2022 survey when 23% were very worried, 36% somewhat worried, 24% not too worried, and 16% not at all worried.
Going back further to September 2021, worries have risen slightly, from 21% to 26% for those who are very worried and from 33% to 38% for those who are somewhat worried.
As one might expect, people with annual incomes below $100,000 are much more worried about their personal financial situation. 76% of residents with incomes under $50K and 64% of those with incomes of $50K-$100K are worried, compared to half as many (34%) residents with incomes of $100K or higher.
While 75% of residents with a high school degree or less and 69% of those with some college experience are worried, a much lower 44% of those who have achieved a four-year degree or more education are feeling worried.
Compared to other questions about the economy, there are lesser differences between those who hold divergent political views. While worries are slightly lower for Democrats (56%) than for Republicans (67%) and other Oregonians (68%), the differences are smaller than observed for general questions about the economy. Economic liberals (60%) and conservatives (60%) have similar levels of worry, while moderates are slightly more worried (68%).
There does seem to be a clear correlation between those who are very unsatisfied (a rating of one on a five-point scale) with their political party and personal worries about finances: 79% of residents who hold this view are worried, compared to 59%-61% who rate their current party more favorably.
Beyond these differences, worries are higher among residents outside the tri-county area (Willamette Valley: 69%; Rest of State: 66%), women (69%), renters (78%), and those with school-aged children in the household (74%).
“Concerned about wages and salaries keeping up with rising prices.”Woman, age 55-64, Washington County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native
“It is hard to survive in Oregon due to inflation rates and it makes me want to move.”Woman, age 18-29, Klamath County, White
“Everything is getting too expensive. Regular people are struggling to make ends meet. It’s a scary time, feels like there isn’t much hope. It’s just a matter of getting by, not growing, no upward mobility.”Woman, age 30-44, Multnomah County, Asian
“Oregon’s housing price is way too expensive compared to the average family’s income most Oregonians have to live check to check and can only afford the essentials because how expensive housing is.”Man, age 18-29, Coos County, White
“The minimum wage doesn’t reflect minimum living requirements. Food prices are soaring. My friends and family are suffering through financial impact.”Woman, age 18-29, Douglas County, White
The Economy Is an Important Issue for Oregonians
When asked in an open-ended format what issue they feel is most important for elected officials to address, three of the top ten most-mentioned issues are related to the economy: housing affordability (15%); cost of living, prices of goods and services, and inflation (6%); and income inequality (4%)(Q3).
“Pay attention to the homeless population, and homeless people, because there are too many of them, there are more and more people without houses to live in, raising wages to reduce prices to reduce housing prices is the most important.”Man, age 30-44, Clackamas County, Black or African American
“Address the poverty and exceedingly excessive and expensive apartments that are being put up. No one can afford to live here anymore and things sit empty.”Non-binary or gender non-conforming, age 18-29, Washington County, white
“Affordable housing and the outrageous 14% rent increase they just passed. They think landlords aren’t going to raise the rent as much as possible? They’re crazy – Landlords are NOT trying to make things affordable for the people they house. We’re just going to continue to price out our young people and their families.”Woman, age 30-44, Deschutes County, white
“Homelessness is a symptom of financial distress. Although people love selling a house for 300% more than they paid, the astronomical rise in housing costs is not a positive when it leads to out of control rents and a skyrocketing homeless population. Local leaders are not willing to do much more than terrorize the houseless and periodically bulldoze their meager possessions in the hopes that they’ll somehow disappear.Woman, age 45-54, Douglas County, white
“The inflation problem and the lack of money to buy items.”Woman, age 30-44, Umatilla County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native
More Economic Issues Elected Officials Should Address
Other issues related to the economy that Oregonians want their elected officials to prioritize include jobs and workplace quality and equity (3%); low income and poverty (2%); the economy in general (2%); and local or small businesses and economic development (1%). Overall, about one in three Oregonians say elected officials should prioritize addressing various economic issues.
“The economy cannot grow unless we can solve the affordable housing crisis. Otherwise, employers are understaffed, and goods and services are not available.”Man, age 65-74, Lincoln County, white
“The economy. It drives the increase in the homeless. It worsens the cost of living, especially for those on a fixed income. The cost of gas is making people choose between food and getting to work. It makes people feel desperate and a great deal of violence ensues. So, yeah, the economy.”Man, age 65-74, Multnomah County, white
“Gotta do something about the landlords/rent prices. People can’t afford to live. Not much to be done about gas/grocery prices but a rental/eviction freeze is long overdue.”Trans man, age 18-29, Marion County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native and White
“Create infrastructure that provides jobs for local community members and protects our natural resources. Make sure adequate house of is available for working families and other younger county members.”Woman, age 30-44, Tillamook County, Hispanic/Latina/x, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White
“Housing would be number one and then jobs for people like us.”Man, age 55-64, Multnomah County, Asian
Majority View Economic Conditions as Fair or Poor
Oregonians that rate the state’s economic conditions don’t have a high opinion of the state’s current economic conditions. 25% describing conditions as excellent (2%) or good (23%), while 36% say they are fair, and 34% describe conditions as poor (23%) or very poor (12%) (Q4).
Results are similar to a January 2022 OVBC survey, where 3% rated conditions as excellent, 21% as good, 40% as fair, 20% as poor, and 13% as very poor. The slight shifts seen are all within the margins of error for these surveys, suggesting that little has changed since the start of 2022 when it comes to Oregonians’ perceptions of the state’s economy.
Unsurprisingly, residents with higher socioeconomic status have a rosier view of Oregon’s economy. For instance, 41% of those with at least a college degree say the economy is excellent or good, compared with 21% of those with some college experience and 17% of high school graduates. Differences are also seen by incomes, with 41% of those making $100K or more holding a positive view, while the same is true for 23% of those with incomes between $50K-$100K and 20% of those making less than $50K annually.
Political views also seem to shape perceptions of the economy, with Democrats and liberals more positive than others. When it comes to party, Democrats are more positive (38%) than Republicans (15%) and other residents (20%). Considering economic ideology, liberals hold more positive views (38%) than moderates (21%) and conservatives (16%).
Finally, those who are more satisfied with their political party tend to be more positive about the state’s economy than those who are less satisfied (very satisfied: 40%; very unsatisfied: 18%).
Other Oregonians more likely to say the economy is excellent or good include homeowners (31%), tri-county residents (30%), men (29%), and those with school-aged children (27%).
“Employees need to be paid more. Anyone working full-time should be able to avoid rent and food and other basics of life. Lack of day care at affordable cost is a huge issue for workers.”Woman, age 18-29, Deschutes County, White
“As anywhere, characterizing the economic situation in Oregon is complex. Low unemployment is a huge plus, as are increasing wages. Crazy high housing costs are a huge problem.”Woman, age 55-64, Crook County, White
“Oregon is very expensive and housing is ridiculous.”Woman, age 30-44, Lane County, Asian, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native, and White
“The economic conditions of Oregon are in lockstep with the rest of the country, which is not to say anything positive.”Man, age 18-29, Multnomah County, White
“We are in a strong economic position…The pandemic was a jump starter long overdue to bring workers into reality that their value to industry and business was never appreciated and slowly industries and business are realizing they no longer control workers as a commodity.”Man, age 65-74, Union County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native
“Inflation has really impacted us. People can’t afford housing right now. With the rent cap being raised people are getting priced out of housing. Almost everyone I know has a roommate or requires a 2-3 income household just to barely get by.”Woman, age 18-29, Lane County, White
“Oregon’s economy is doing much better than the nation as a whole, but there is far too much attention being paid to the service industry (which might bring the owners long term wealth, but really just keeps the working poor working).”Man, age 45-54, Malheur County, White
Residents are Pessimistic about the Future
Looking again at the January 2022 OVBC survey, we see that sentiments have remained consistent: 46% said the economy was getting worse, 35% that it was staying the same, and 14% that it was getting better.
Socio-economic status impacts views of the economy’s future as well. College graduates are more likely than others to believe that the economy is getting better (18% vs. 8%-10%) or staying the same (38% vs. 28%-32%). On the other hand, Oregonians with some college experience (54%) and a high school degree or less (54%) are more likely to say things are getting worse than those with higher educational attainment (38%). Similar trends are seen when looking at Oregonians with incomes of $100K or more, who are more likely than others to say things are getting better (16% vs. 10%-11%) or staying the same (39% vs. 30%-31%). A majority of those with incomes of $100K or lower (50%-55%) say things are getting worse.
Again, political views impact perceptions of the economy’s future. Democrats are more likely than others to say things are getting better (19% vs. 5%-7%) or staying the same (41% vs. 22%-32%). Meanwhile, 69% of Republicans and 54% of Independents and non-affiliated voters say things are getting worse, compared to 34% of Democrats.
Those who are most satisfied with their current political party are more positive about the direction of the economy than those who are less satisfied (24% vs. 6%-15%), while the percentage of Oregonians who think the economy is staying about the same remains relatively stable across all levels of satisfaction (28%-36%).
Other groups that are more likely to say the economy is getting worse include residents outside the tri-county area (Willamette Valley: 52%; Rest of State: 54%), renters (54%), and those with school-aged children (55%).
“The economy in my opinion has roughly stayed the same. The economy is not my biggest worry. I worry more about the quality of the environment.”Man, age 18-29, Marion County, Hispanic/Latino/x, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native, and White
“Oregon’s economy is fine, I just feel like economy everywhere is getting worse. With the way so many businesses keep raising prices while paychecks stay the same, it’s gotten to the point where a full day’s work is one gas tank.”Non-binary or gender non-conforming and Trans person, age 18-29, Jefferson County, White
“Oregon’s economy can become better by rent being regulated and inflation control.”Man, age 30-44, Multnomah County, Black or African American
“Oregon will soon be like Southern California, most people in poverty and miserable and a few rich people controlling things and making it worse.”Man, age 45-54, Washington County, Asian
Identifying what unites us, understanding what divides us.
Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, urban and rural Oregonians, and age groups. Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives.
This survey uses aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.
- While BIPOC and white Oregonians hold similar views about the economy as a whole, BIPOC Oregonians are more worried about their personal finances.
- BIPOC Oregonians are more worried (71%) than white Oregonians (60%) about their personal finances (Q6). Differences are also seen when looking at the percentage of those who are very worried: 30% of BIPOC residents, as compared to 24% of white residents.
- There are no meaningful differences in overall perceptions of the economy between BIPOC (23% excellent or good) and white Oregonians (27%) (Q4).
- Likewise, BIPOC and white Oregonians hold similar views about Oregon’s economic future, whether it comes to getting better (12% vs. 12%), staying the same (29% vs. 34%), or getting worse (51% vs. 48%) (Q5).
- Oregonians living in urban areas tend to be more positive about the economy than those living in rural areas, but differences are smaller when considering worries about personal finances.
- Compared to other questions about the economy, there are lesser differences between urban (68%) and rural residents (65%) when it comes to worries about personal finances (Q6).
- Residents of rural areas are more pessimistic about the economy, while urban residents are marginally more positive (Q4). For instance, 42% of rural residents rate the economy as poor (including 16% as very poor), while the same is true for 31% of urban residents (11% as very poor). Even while being more positive, only 28% of urban residents say the economy is excellent or good, compared to 19% of rural residents.
- Rural Oregonians are more pessimistic about the direction the economy is headed, with 56% of residents in rural areas saying the economy is getting worse, compared to 44% of those in more urban areas (Q5). This is not to say urban residents are optimistic; urban and rural residents say the economy is improving at almost identical rates (13% and 12%). Urban residents are simply more likely than rural residents to say that things are staying about the same (37% vs. 24%).
- Oregonians’ perceptions of the economy and their personal finances differ widely by age, particularly when comparing those ages 65 and older with younger residents.
- Worries about personal finances are notably higher among those ages 18-64 (67%-74%) than those ages 65 and older (36-42%) (Q6).
- Oregonians ages 65-74 (35%) and 75 or older (39%) are more likely to say the economy is excellent or good than younger Oregonians (21%-23%) (Q4).
- As with general perceptions of the economy, older Oregonians tend to be more optimistic about the direction the economy is headed (Q5). Those ages 65-74 (18%) and 75 or older (16%) are the most likely to say the economy is getting better. On the other end of the spectrum, Oregonians between the ages of 30-64 are especially likely to say that the economy is getting worse (52%-59%)—those ages 18-29 would be in the same boat if not for their higher levels of uncertainty (44% getting worse, 11% unsure/don’t know).
Methodology: The online survey consisted of 1,878 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.
Statement of Limitations: Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error for the full sample ±2.26%. Due to rounding or multiple answer questions, response percentages may not add up to 100%.
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 (https://oregonvbc.org).
For More Information:
 Survey conducted January 13-20, 2022; OVBC; N= 1,400
 Survey conducted January 13-20, 2022; OVBC; N= 1,400