I wanted to share with you some work for a client, the Northwest Area Foundation, that is being released today and of which I am very excited.
Each year, the Northwest Area Foundation commissions a survey on poverty — my friends at Lake Research Partners (Mike Perry and Tresa Undem) design and execute it. I write the documentation that goes along with the usual reports and press releases.
Americans Hard Hit
This year’s survey is the first to really show the effects of the recession that officially began in December 2007. These effects are stark. Many already know that 2008 showed a rise in the share of Americans in poverty (13.2 percent, up from 12.5 percent in 2007).
There are now more people in poverty (39.8 million) than ever since 1960.
This survey shows some of the national effects coming home to roost locally: 53% of Americans say they have cut back on what they spend on food, and 38% say they or a family member have had hours cut at work. More than a quarter say they or a family member has been laid off.
Against this backdrop of tough times, the survey shows people very willing to take steps to improve things. From the Policy Brief:
Strong majorities of people say they are willing to do even more to help their neighbors who are struggling.
Eight in ten (80%) say they are willing to volunteer for an organization that helps people who are struggling. Half of that (42%) are “very” willing. Not only that, but seven in ten (70%) are willing to get more involved in their local government by attending meetings or contacting elected officials.
Even though times are tough, six out of ten (60%) Americans say they would be willing to pay $50 more in taxes if it went to local programs to help people struggling in their community. More than half of that number (33%) would be “very” willing to pay such a tax.
Finally, this is an issue that local, state, and federal elected leaders definitely need to pay attention to. 75% of people say that, when they vote, they think about how well a candidate would help people struggling to make ends meet.