North Carolina Residents Struggle with Economic Challenges; Supportive of Statewide Policy Actions

PerryUndem, a nonpartisan research firm, commissioned a statewide survey to gain a deeper understanding of how North Carolina residents feel about their state, challenges in their communities and on a personal level, and policy priorities. Conducted May–June 2022, the poll reveals widespread challenges and concerns among North Carolinians and their support for state policy actions that would expand opportunities:

  • North Carolina residents are worried about the economy. Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) say they have been worrying about the economy during the last six months. More than half (56%) feel the economy is heading in the wrong direction, and many more (75%) feel the state’s economy has left too many people behind. More than half (54%) say finding good-paying jobs in their community is hard.

  • Many North Carolina residents are struggling financially. Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) say they are doing worse financially than they were a year ago (only 18% say they are doing better). One-third (33%) say they are struggling to buy food right now and one-quarter (27%) say they are having difficulty paying their utilities. Three-quarters (74%) say they have been worrying about their transportation costs these last six months.

  • Nine in ten agree the wealth gap is growing. Specifically, 59% strongly agree, and another 29% agree. Only 3% don’t agree.

  • Many seem exhausted by how hard life is right now. In fact, 62% say, “I am tired of just getting by, I want to thrive.” And nearly half (45%) say, “no matter what I do, I just can’t’ seem to get ahead.” More than 4 in 10 (44%) have worried about their mental health in the last six months. Even more (55%) say they have worried about the mental health of a loved one during this period.

  • Affordable housing is another problem they see in North Carolina. 9 in 10 (89%) feel over the past 5 years, housing in the state has become less affordable, and 58% say a lack of affordable housing is a major problem where they live.

  • Almost all North Carlina residents say health insurance is important, but they see a lot of barriers to it. 7 in 10 (72%) say health insurance is not affordable if you lose a job and need to buy it on your own. A similar proportion (71%) agree there are a lot of jobs in North Carolina that do not come with health insurance.

  • State residents share beliefs about a vision for what North Carolina should be. Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) agree with the statements: “Opportunity and success in North Carolina for my family and me shouldn’t be determined by zip code, background, or income,” and “Everyone in the state should have equitable access to healthy food regardless of where they live, their income, their race, or any other factors.” Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) agree that “all North Carolina residents should have access to quality, affordable healthcare services to support their physical and mental well-being and have financial security.” And 92% say having more options for affordable health coverage can result in a healthier, more productive workforce in the state.

  • A majority do NOT think state leaders are doing enough to help them through these hard times. 6 in 10 (63%) say North Carolina elected officials are NOT doing enough to improve the standard of living for most state residents. Only 11% say their state leaders are doing enough for residents. In addition, 35% feel there is not enough help for people in their situation.

  • They believe collective action can solve problems facing the state, but at the same time, a majority don’t feel they have a voice. On the one hand, 79% agree that they can solve problems if they work together with their neighbors and community members. But when it comes to their own sense of personal agency, most do not feel any. Specifically, 56% say they don’t’ feel like they have a voice in what happens in North Carolina.

  • North Carolinians agree on many policy directions for the state. Most of these ideas have bipartisan support (i.e., at least 50% or more of every political party).
    • Improving conditions of existing roadways (94%)
    • Lowering utility bills and making utilities more reliable (90%)
    • Improving broadband and internet access (86%)
    • Creating more affordable housing options (85%)
    • Bringing public transportation options to more areas in the state (74%)
    • Expanding SNAP/EBT cards so more people can get help buying groceries (73%)

This poll was a 15-minute statewide survey of adults 18 and older living in North Carolina. The
survey was conducted online with YouGov. In all, 700 adults participated, including 203 Black adults
and 100 Hispanic/Latino adults. The margin of sampling error for total results is +4.52 percentage