ABC7 Poll: Uncertainty in local economy

February 4, 2008 7:40:51 PM PST
A new ABC7 Listens Poll shows people are losing confidence in the Bay Area economy -- and in their personal economic futures.

Only 15 percent rate the local economy good or very good. Forty-two-percent say it is "okay" at best and an equal number rate the bay area economy "poor" or "very poor."

The ABC7 poll of 910 Bay Area registered voters indicates the lowest level of pessimism about the economy in five years.

Five years ago, the Bay Area was still reeling from the bubble burst. Today, we're facing a credit and housing slump and higher consumer prices.

Laura Britto is a retired Antioch bridge toll taker. Her concerns about the economy is influenced by the number of foreclosures happening in her neighborhood.

Her son is a real estate agent facing a tough market.

"So many people losing their houses affects the whole neighborhood. It's sad because it means a lot of the jobs are falling by the wayside. I think it's going to get a little bit worse before it gets better," said Antioch resident Laura Britto.

However, some of our respondents took a hard-nosed view of the situation.

One person said: "We should each be held accountable for our actions. People who signed a sub-prime mortgage should not be bailed out."

Another poll taker said: "This whole mess could have been avoided if people would just live within their means."

That's getting difficult in the Bay Area where the cost of gasoline and food is a growing challenge.

Judi Schellenberg, a retired administrative assistant, watches her budget by using the grocery ads when creating her shopping list.

Sixty-four percent of our poll takers ranked gasoline as a significant burden, 58-percent cited home energy expenses and 42-percent listed food and housing.

The future of the economy appears clouded by uncertainty. Thirty-two percent are concerned they might lose their job or face a loss of income in the next year.

That's a five-percent rise from a year ago. Those who said they're "very concerned" increased four percent.

"My parents were raised through hard times. World War I and II and the Depression, and we were brought up that way, so we know how to tighten our belt. I'm concerned about the generation of our children. They pretty much had everything, and I don't know if they're prepared to do the same," said San Rafael resident Judi Schellenberg.

Belt-tightening may well be in the future of some Bay Area families. The percentage of people predicting the regional economy will be doing worse a year from now, nearly doubled -- from 13 to 25 percent.