November 25, 2014

Survey says: optimism on economic prospects

A survey shows lingering pessimism about the current state of Wisconsin’s economy, but a surge in optimism about the future. The Wisconsin Economic Scorecard is a quarterly poll of Wisconsin residents that began earlier this year. It measures perceptions of the health of Wisconsin’s economy, and the personal economic circumstances of state residents.

The survey released Tuesday indicates that 61 percent of state residents now think the state is headed in the right direction, 39 percent think we’re on the wrong track.

Joe Cera, researcher and manager of the Center for Urban Initiatives and Research (CUIR) at UW-Milwaukee, said the survey reveals a partisan split, as 91 percent of Republicans think the state is on the right track economically, while 67 percent of Democrats disagree. Union memebers are slightly less likely to be happy with the state of the economy, and those whose personal economic situation is improving tend to be more optimistic.

Another interesting finding is what respondents would prefer doing with any state revenue surplus: by a 2-to-1 margin, residents said they would prefer those revenues be used to augment funding for education rather than to receive tax cuts (56.9% to 27.3%).

Residents once again cite “unemployment/jobs” as the most important economic issue facing the state, with 50.6% of responses falling into that category. “Government spending” (6.3%) and “health care” (5.0%) were the second- and third-most frequently cited issues.

The poll is a random digit dial telephone survey of 472 Wisconsin residents conducted by the CUIR from October 22-25. The margin of error is 4.5%.