Survey: Kansans less upbeat about economy

HAYS — A new survey finds that more Kansans gave the economy lower marks this year than last year.

The Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University contacted more than 4,000 Kansas households by mail and phone from June through September.

It found that the percentage of people who regard the economy as "fair," "poor" or "very poor" rose from 47.5 last year to 59.7 this year. The percentage of people who think the economy is at least "good" dropped by 12.2 percentage points.

"The results suggest that the poor economy has had a significant impact on Kansans' perceptions of their quality of life," said Gary Brinker, director of the Docking Institute.

The survey found that 40 percent of respondents were "very concerned" about the threat of economic conditions on their families, up from 28.7 percent in 2009. Only 11 percent were "not concerned" this year about the threat, compared with 15.1 percent a year ago.

The Kansas unemployment rate in October was 6.4 percent, down from 6.7 percent the month earlier. Gov.-elect Sam Brownback, a Republican, made growing the economy the focal point of his campaign to replace Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson.

Brownback has said he will look to reduce overall government spending and reform taxes in effort to stimulate job creation for the 100,000 Kansans out of work.

Participants also were asked about health care, taxes, their satisfaction with elected leaders, education and social services spending, and oil and coal development.

The survey found Kansans having a lower opinion of the job state government is doing. The percentage of those feeling government was doing "good" fell to 37.1 percent in 2010 from 51.2 percent in 2009.

The university said in a news release that 1,002 of the surveys were completed. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.