Nearly one-third of Minnesotans worry most of the time that their total family income will not be enough to meet their family's expenses and bills in 2008, bringing the struggle to make ends meet to a very personal level, according to a nationwide survey released by the Northwest Area Foundation.
Whether due to the depressed housing market, record numbers of home foreclosures, mounting debt or a wavering stock market, more than half of the state's residents rated the local economy as fair or poor. More than two-thirds say they are worried the economy will get worse this year. The poll numbers show:
29 percent worry most or all of the time their total family income won't be enough to meet bills.
53 percent rate the local economy as fair or poor.
69 percent say they are worried the economy might get worse in the next year.
Those who work with people who are struggling in west-central Minnesota point to a number of factors that may be contributing to the poll numbers.
An overwhelming number of Minnesotans say their concerns about people struggling to make ends meet will be an issue in this year's elections:
91 percent say they will probably vote in the November election.
89 percent think it is important for elected officials to help those who are struggling.
79 percent say they will take that belief with them to the voting booth.
Yet, Minnesotans hold out hope. For three straight years they have said they believe that the number going through hard times can be reduced.
A likely reflection of the rising cost of living, more people say it takes twice the federal poverty threshold, $21,027, to meet basic needs for a family of four:
71 percent in 2008 vs. 66 percent in 2007 say it takes at least $40,000 for a family of four.
Forty-four percent in 2008 vs. 36 percent in 2007 say it takes more than $40,000 for a family of four.
Despite their own personal financial worries, 87 percent of Minnesotans report they would like to do more to help those who are struggling to make ends meet. Among the steps they are willing to take, 67 percent say they would pay $50 more per year in taxes if it would go to people in their community.
For full details on the national poll, visit www.nwaf.org.