PULLMAN – Nearly 50 percent of Washington residents say the economy is the most important issue facing the state, far outpacing issues in health care and education, which each were named by 16 percent.
A monthly survey conducted by the WSU Social and Economic Sciences Research Center (SESRC) also showed the economy gaining ground as the highest priority for allocation of tax money.
Jobs/wages was named by 11 percent of respondents as the state’s most important issue, followed by reducing taxes (5 percent) and the environment (4 percent).
SESRC, under the direction of John Tarnai, director, and Danna Moore, associate director, conducts monthly surveys to assess Washington residents’ opinions regarding social and economic issues.
Where should taxes go?
Opinions on allocating tax money have shifted during the last three months. In September, 34 percent considered K-12 education the highest priority for tax money. That number slipped to 30 percent in October and remained at the same level in November.
Over the same period, the percentage of people who consider economic development and jobs the highest priority increased from 19 percent in September to 28 percent in November.
While education still ranks highest, the trends suggest concern over the economy and jobs is growing.
Identifying the most important use of tax dollars was difficult for many respondents.
“Choosing one makes it seem like (the others) are not important — but they are,” said one survey participant.
Personally optimistic
Despite the downturn in the economy, most respondents said their own economic situation would be either somewhat better (29 percent) or much better (16 percent) in the next five years. Only 19 percent said their economic outlook would be worse than it is today. Residents under the age of 40 were more optimistic than older residents.
Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,354 state residents between Sept. 8 and Nov. 19, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
Find more information about the surveys and SESRC ONLINE