Featured Research

YOUNG VOTERS VIEW ECONOMY THROUGH LENS OF UNDEREMPLOYMENT

March 27, 2012
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As part of our Target Voter Series, Resurgent Republic sponsored four focus groups among Generation-Y voters ages 23 to 30 in Raleigh, North Carolina and Columbus, Ohio. Following are key highlights pertaining to the economy and underemployment.




Read the full Report: The Disillusioned Obama Young Voter




  1. Overall both young voter groups did not think the national economy is getting better. The awareness and personal observations of the economy as it relates to their own lives was somewhat different in North Carolina and Ohio. However, the view of the economy as a whole was unquestionably negative. One North Carolina respondent noted that “the current economic conditions are like a windfall: when one thing gets bad it has an impact on everything else.” Another said, “The price of everything is going up, but paychecks are not.” The Ohio respondents noted that jobs “do exist in Columbus” but were frustrated with the reality of working in occupations not related to their education level.


  2. “Underemployment” is a reality among these 23-to-30 year olds, and they aren’t happy about it. Underemployment is not just an arcane concept or a word talked about on the evening news. These voters are either personally experiencing what it means to be “underemployed” or are watching their friends and peers feel it. The respondents in Raleigh rattled off stories of those who have accepted lesser quality jobs in order to make ends meet or remained in graduate programs – described by one respondent as a “parking place” – in order to avoid the harsh realities of the job market. Several of the Columbus respondents called underemployment “the new normal.” In both states they said their own college degree is not being put to work, but rather they are heading to grocery stores, the service industry or manufacturing jobs in order to earn an income, with several highlighting the burden of their student loan payments as an additional weight on their economic fortune. Four years ago, “hope” and “change” bolstered their perception of the future. Yet today, many of these voters are not where they thought they would be.


  3. These young voters were troubled about the deficit and national debt and the future ramifications if left unaddressed. All four groups were particularly concerned about the growing national debt. There is an acceptance among these voters that the growing financial crisis will not “be solved by government,” but it will be this generation of voters who will ultimately “pay the price.” One North Carolina voter said spending and the deficit “will not solve our economic problems, but rather prolong the ability to head into a recovery.” Both groups were supportive of looking for opportunities to make cuts in the Federal budget in order to reduce spending. Some differences of preferences for cuts do exist. The North Carolina voters suggest changes to entitlements, while Ohio voters were predominately focused on reforming unemployment benefits (a recurring theme) and spending less on national defense. The Ohio voters are particularly nonplused with the government’s tendency to “look for other places to take money from rather than finding places to make cuts.”


  4. North Carolina voters were substantially more skeptical of the national unemployment rate and believe it is higher than 8.3 percent. Ohio voters see the job growth in their city and state, and as a result think more jobs exist than what is reported. The Raleigh focus groups demonstrated a thorough understanding of “underemployment” and what the “real unemployment rate” is. One respondent even noted, “true unemployment is somewhere near 15 percent or 16 percent.” A majority of the participants in Raleigh understood that the unemployment figures do not take into account those who have dropped out of the work force. The Columbus voters were more hesitant in accepting the unemployment statistics as “fact,” and have a more positive impression of the employment environment. A point of focus in the Columbus groups was the referencing of friends and peers who collect unemployment compensation due to the easy access, and expressed frustration with those who game the system and don’t search for a job. This played into the broader theme of the Columbus findings, with these voters recognizing the growing job market at home.



Read the full Report: The Disillusioned Obama Young Voter




 

Filed under: Free Market Economy, Unemployment, and Focus Group