UWM poll finds surge in optimism about Wisconsin’s economic future

People’s perceptions of the state of the current economy in Wisconsin remains pessimistic, but expectations of future economic performance and the overall direction of the state have become more rosy, driven primarily by a change in outlook by political independents.

 These are the latest results of a quarterly survey conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Center for Urban Initiatives and Research (CUIR). 
The Wisconsin Economic Scorecard, a quarterly poll of Wisconsin residents that began earlier this year, measures perceptions of the health of Wisconsin’s economy as well as personal economic circumstances of Wisconsin residents. The survey is done in cooperation with Milwaukee public radio station WUWM-FM and WisBusiness.com.
The proportion of Wisconsin residents who feel the state is headed in the “right direction” (61 percent) has increased for the third consecutive quarter, up from 54.9 percent in July and 51.2 percent in March. And while most respondents predicted the state economy would stay about the same last quarter, a majority this quarter (52.1 percent) believe it will get better.
At the same time, however, residents remain gloomy about the current state economy, with a majority (53.4 percent) describing it as “fair,” and 21.6 percent saying it is “poor.” Just 24.1 percent say the state economy is “good.”
 And 60.3 percent of respondents reported a problem with at least one major personal financial issue, such as affording rent or mortgage, keeping a job or getting a loan. That’s a jump from last quarter’s 51.2 percent.
Analysis suggests that responses about the state’s future economy are influenced by three factors – personal economic situation, union membership and political views, with the last factor being the strongest, says Joseph Cera, researcher and manager of the CUIR Survey Center at UWM. The vast majority of Republicans (91 percent) reported feeling that Wisconsin is headed “in the right direction,” while most Democrats (67.2 percent) said the state is “on the wrong track.”
Cera says that while partisanship clearly influences opinion on the direction of the state, change over time in the level of optimism has occurred because of shifting opinions among political independents. In July, independents were nearly equally split on the question. This quarter, 63 percent said “right direction” and only 37 percent said “wrong track.”

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