As the economy continues to struggle, residents in outstate Minnesota appear to be even more anxious than those in the metro area.
A new poll says only 19 percent of Minnesotans outside the seven-county metro area believe they will be better off financially a year from now. Thirty-five percent think they will be worse off.
Mortgage foreclosures, rising property taxes and gas prices and job losses have combined to raise concerns across the nation about an economic recession.
But it appears that those living outside the Twin Cities metro area appear to be even more nervous about the situation. Twenty-six percent of metro residents feel they will be better off a year from now.
"It's clear from our polling work that people in greater Minnesota have a tremendous amount of economic anxiety. That anxiety has increased from last June," said Matt Entenza, founder of the Minnesota 2020, the progressive think tank that commissioned the poll.
Outstate Minnesota residents say health care (40 percent), jobs and the economy (39 percent) and education (35 percent) were their top three concerns, according to the poll. Taxes weren't far behind at 34 percent, with immigration and infrastructure in the second tier of issues.
"It really shows the importance of the work that needs to be done in jobs and the economy, and the fact that people want policy makers to focus on the broad issues of health care, the economy and education," Entenza said.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's promise not to raise taxes to deal with the state's precarious budget situation is getting a lukewarm reception outstate, the survey said. Only 27 percent felt that was the right way to go, with 25 percent believing that the approach would reduce funding for essential state services.
The Feldman Group, a Washington, D.C., based firm that conducted the survey, reported that 39 percent of the respondents said that holding the line on taxes "sounds fine, but they felt that they ended up paying more in fees and property taxes as a result of that policy," pollster Roy Temple said.
The survey was conducted from Feb. 4-10. The Feldman Group interviewed 500 residents across the state, then an additional 300 of people outside the metro area.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)