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Californians still anxious about economy, poll shows

March 21, 2013|By Chris Megerian

SACRAMENTO -- There’s been good economic news in recent months: The stock market is soaring to record highs, housing prices are on the rise and unemployment has begun a stubborn descent.

But California voters remain anxious about the economy, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

Forty-six percent of respondents said the economy is starting to improve, and 29% said it would probably get worse. With the federal budget standoff still unresolved, perceptions of economic progress have barely budged since November, when the same questions were asked.

James Frees, 35, of Moreno Valley fears any progress could quickly be undone.  

“I see just as many empty houses around my neighborhood,” said Frees, a registered Republican who works in finance.

He’s among the 30% of respondents who said they had delayed a major purchase. Frees said he and his family passed on buying a $2,000 camping trailer.

“We decided it’s just not a good time,” he said. “And if we’re not going to do that, we’re not going to be taking a family vacation this year.”

Thirty-five percent of respondents said California was going in the right direction. That’s an increase from two years ago but a drop from 38% in November.

“There’s always a post-election afterglow,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. “That glow doesn’t stick around forever."

Thomas Keller, 37, said he thinks the economy is on the mend.  A Democrat in Orange County, he’s upbeat about finding a new job and sees people he knows doing well.

“I see a lot of friends my age starting families and having their first children and buying their first homes,” he said.

The bipartisan survey was conducted for the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times by two Washington, D.C.-area firms: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic company, and the Republican firm American Viewpoint. They canvassed 1,501 registered California voters by telephone from March 11 through 17. The margin of error is 2.9 percentage points.

Look for more poll findings in coming days.


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Twitter: @chrismegerian

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