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Cornell University poll shows the cost of living is the most important issue for New Yorkers

A man shopping for vegetables at a supermarket.
A man shopping for vegetables at a supermarket.

A new poll conducted by Cornell University’s School of Labor and Industrial Relations shows that the cost of living is the most important issue for New York state residents.

The Empire State Poll, conducted between May and mid-August, found that 28% of respondents ranked the cost of living first, followed by crime at just over 20%.

Russell Weaver is research director and he said that the poll shows when New Yorkers were asked about what direction the state’s economy is headed in, the most common response was that it’s going in the wrong direction and people don’t think the economy is likely to improve.

“When we asked about their personal household financial situation, same thing, the plurality of people, the most common answer is that they think they'll be worse off next year than they are right now,” said Weaver. “And that continues a trend. We also ask about the past, and so most households also said that they are worse off now than they were a year ago.”

Weaver said that the worry about inflation wasn’t among the chief concerns for New Yorkers during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even during the height of the pandemic, when folks were facing unemployment at astronomically high unexpected, unprecedented levels, we still had government supports that were trying to get resources out to people who were affected, and prices weren't necessarily rising through the roof. And so now those supports have kind of withered away, prices are rising,” said Weaver.

Weaver noted that since the poll ended in mid-August, there have been some improvements in the economy, including a drop in gas prices and the announcement about loan forgiveness. But he does not think those changes are enough to cause any major change in the results of the survey.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.