Economic optimism declines, as Pittsburghers seek return to workplace

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September 9, 2021 | Pittsburgh Works Together


PITTSBURGH – A recent poll of Southwestern Pennsylvania voters shows a demand for a return to workplaces amid the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic.

The short message from those surveyed appears to be: Back-to-school should include back-to-work.

Fully 76 percent of those polled believe it is now safe to return to the workplace, with majorities cutting across political and economic lines, including union, non-union, college-educated and non-college voters surveyed. The poll found a widespread belief that workplaces are now safe and a majority of 75 percent surveyed said they had received one of the Covid vaccines.

Pollster Gene Ulm of Public Opinion Strategies said the findings indicate that people in the region are now more concerned about their economic situation than the Covid crisis and that past optimism about a post-pandemic economic bounce has diminished.

“If there is an overriding message here, it is that people from Pittsburgh and the surrounding counties say it’s time to get back to work,” said Jeff Nobers, executive director of Pittsburgh Works Together.

The poll also found a drop in economic confidence from February of this year when 50 percent of those polled thought the economic situation in the region would improve in the next year. That number dipped to 41 percent in the August poll.

To an extent, the economic outlook polling results break along political lines, with a minority of Republicans predicting a better economy and a slight majority of Democrats optimistic about the economic prospects.

The poll finds that a large plurality of voters, 41 percent, still believe that the main priority of elected leaders should be bringing the economy back from the pandemic job loss. The next highest priority listed is bringing students back into classrooms following the pandemic, 23 percent. Roughly 22 percent of those surveyed listed their top priority as protecting people from Covid-19.

The poll of 500 registered voters across a 13-county area of the state’s southwest, was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of Pittsburgh Works Together, a coalition of organized labor and business.

The poll was conducted in mid-August and has a margin for error of roughly 4 percent. It follows up on a Pittsburgh Works poll of the same region conducted in February.

More information can be found here.

About the Regional Reaction Poll: The Pittsburgh Works Regional Reaction poll measures public opinion on issues of the economy and regional quality of life so that regional leaders can develop policies informed by an accurate and quantifiable gauge of public sentiment.  These polls are conducted quarterly.



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Jeff Nobers | Executive Director |
Ken Zapiniski | Director of Research and Public Policy |
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