Poll: Cost of living is biggest concern for NYS residents

The cost of living is the most important issue for residents of New York state, according to the Empire State Poll, conducted by the ILR School between June and August.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents ranked cost of living first, followed by crime at 20.4%. The state’s economy ranks as a distant third at 9.3%. Inequality, good government and other issues were farther down the list.

Cornell impacting New York State

The Empire State Poll, designed to provide actionable and quantified data to inform Cornell faculty research, has been conducted since 2003 by the Cornell University Survey Research Institute. This year, the ILR School led the poll for the first time, expanding it to online and mailed formats, in addition to telephone calls, and nearly tripling its typical sample size.

“Early observations are offering key insights into what matters to New Yorkers right now,” said Russell Weaver, ILR Buffalo Co-Lab research director, who serves on the project team. 

Asked about the most important issues within their households, 63% of those polled cited inflation or the cost of living. The next highest-ranking issue, named by 8.9% of respondents, is housing access and affordability. 

Asked how their financial status compares to their status one year ago, 46.9% said their households are now worse off. Only 11.3% of respondents indicated that their financial status is better than a year ago. 

When asked to provide their outlook on New York state’s economy as a whole, 43.2% said that they anticipate the state’s economy will be worse next year compared with now. Around 18% of respondents said the economy is heading in a positive direction.

The purpose of the poll is twofold, said Ariel Avgar, senior associate dean of research and sponsored research. “First, as the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations, we are committed to advancing data-driven policy recommendations that account for patterns and trends affecting the state’s residents,” he said.

“The survey also offers an opportunity to collect data that extends our faculty research on a broad range of work and employment issues. Survey findings add to what we know about a host of central challenges and opportunities that workers and employers face in a period characterized by significant change and uncertainty.”

Workplace, community, governmental, economic and topical issue questions are asked in addition to rotating items submitted by researchers. Before coming under the umbrella of the ILR School, the poll surveyed 800 New Yorkers each year using phone interviews exclusively. The additional online and mailing options more than tripled the number of respondents, which will allow data to be broken out by region. 

A total of 2,675 New Yorkers participated in the poll, 2,162 of whom completed the full survey instrument. The cross-disciplinary ILR Outreach team that spearheaded the survey plans to make the full results and data set available in the coming weeks.

Mary Catt is the ILR School’s communication director.

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Jeffrey Martin