Poll: NC’s Economic Outlook Is a Mixed Bag

Poll: NC’s Economic Outlook Is a Mixed Bag

Despite the pandemic’s hardships, the majority of North Carolinians report that they feel positive about our state’s economic outlook long term.

North Carolinians are deeply concerned about coronavirus and its long-range effects on the economy and the way we live. Even so, not many are ready to push the panic button, according to an extensive survey by Chernoff Newman, a Charlotte-based research firm. The survey paints a picture of how North Carolinians feel about the way we live now, as well as their hopes and fears about the future.

Employment Optimism Brightens Economic Outlook

Survey respondents said they are concerned about their finances. This conflict between wanting to health and financial stability is creating confusion. North Carolinians don’t want to get sick, but they are ready for the economy to reopen. Nearly 63 percent say they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about their personal financial status, with only 64 percent reporting they still have a job.

Of North Carolinians surveyed, 17 percent report losing a job, 17 percent have had a pay cut, and 28 percent have had reduced work hours. Yet 49 percent said they are “very confident” their jobs will be there when the pandemic ends.

‘Pretty Zen’

North Carolinians report that their stress level is low as they learn to live with a pandemic. The survey found that only 4.4 percent of the population feel things are “close to a meltdown.” And 12.4 percent rate things as “pretty Zen.”

While relatively few see themselves in ‘meltdown” mode, they are concerned about catching the virus and becoming ill. More than 66 percent of those responding said they were “somewhat” or “very” concerned about becoming ill. A quarter of the respondents feel it will take until Summer or longer for things to return to normal. Another quarter feel it will be Fall before business and social activities return to normal. 

Takeout Will Continue To Be the ‘New Normal’

The Chernoff Newman survey confirmed that North Carolinians miss their regular routines and want things to return to normal. They are optimistic about the future, but also realize there will be a “new normal” and that it will take time for these norms to fall into place. This new normal means that the details about our state’s economic outlook will change.

Consumers want to go out to eat, but say they may continue to practice social distancing, cook more at home, and take out rather than dine-in once the pandemic subsides. They miss going to movies, but say they might be more likely to stream movies at home after the pandemic ends.

Travel Plans Squelched 

The pandemic is having a tremendous impact on tourism and travel, with 78 percent reporting they have already cancelled or postponed travel plans. Further, 45 percent of consumers are not confident they will be able to take a vacation this summer. 

Online Education Is Working Fine

Parents want their children back in school but are concerned that returning to classes could lead to them contracting coronavirus. While many children – and their parents – have struggled to continue with education at home, most families with school-aged children say they are satisfied with the job the schools are doing with online education. 

Some Worry about Food Shortages

One factor that has many consumers concerned is the availability of groceries in the coming weeks. Women, households with children and low-income households are most concerned about the availability of food. Nearly half the respondents are “somewhat” or “very concerned about the current availability of groceries and 58.6 percent feel the shortages will increase in coming weeks. 

Consumers admit they miss going out to eat. But they also say they may continue to practice social distancing, cook more at home and consume more take-out rather than dine-in when the crisis subsides. 

Attitudes about News Sources 

Most report their primary sources for news about the coronavirus are local TV news and the major news networks (ABC, NBC, CBS). Many feel the news they hear is “fairly accurate.” But nearly a third feel it is not being taken seriously enough. FOX News and posts by friends on social media are most likely to be viewed a minimizing the situation. In general, those responding to the survey have confidence in federal and state health entities. 

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