Yukoners’ concerns over the economy are deepening and the impacts are being felt at home, according to an on-going quarterly poll of 300 Yukoners conducted by DataPath Systems. Overwhelmingly Yukoners replied that economic issues are their greatest concern, and one in four feel the economy is in critical condition.
When asked what the number one issue facing the territory is, historically the economy was mentioned more than any other issue. For the first time, it has been outpaced by unemployment. At the same time, the comment “lack of industry or business development” has moved to the 3rd most mentioned item (behind unemployment and the economy).
“This indicates that feelings have moved from a general sense that the economy is in decline, to more tangible issues resulting from that, such as the loss of jobs, and the need to change this by creating or supporting business development,” commented Donna Larsen, a partner in DataPath Systems.
As seen in previous quarters, men were more likely to state the economy, lack of industry, and land claims were the key issues, while women tended to focus on unemployment, health care and alcohol/drug problems.
At the same time, more Yukoners are rating the economy as being in critical condition. Last summer, 19% of Yukoners felt the economy was critical, and that has jumped to 26%. This is higher in the communities and increases among older respondents and government employees
“While 37% of Yukoners rate the economy in serious condition, and 32% feel it is stable, it is the jump in those rating it as critical that shows an increasing rate of concern,” added Donna Larsen. . “People are really starting to feel the economic slowdown” Last fall at least 20% of Yukoners felt they were somewhat or better off than they were the previous year, however, now only 15% feel that way. In fact, 26% feeling somewhat or worse off, which is up from 17% from a year ago. Again, it is the older market feeling the worst, with 40% stating they are somewhat or worse off then they were a year ago.
Not unexpectedly, a slow economy is hitting the private sector more than government employees. Only 20% of government employees felt they were worse off, while 30% of the private sector employees felt that way.
Some of this negative sentiment may be affecting the Liberal Party, although not dramatically. Overall, 31% rated the Party a low score (1,2 or 3 on a 10 point scale), while 6% rated them high (8,9 or 10). This is similar to ratings this time last year, but down from a more positive score during the past summer. Scores in the communities were lower than those in Whitehorse. Scores also became more negative the older the respondent. For example, 19% of those under 35 gave a low score to the Liberal Party, while this increased to 26% for those 35-55, and up to 51% for those over the age of 55.
And if the election were held today, 49% of Yukoners would vote for the same party they did in the last election, while 24% would look for a different party to support, 21% do not know how they would vote, and 7% would not vote. Government employees were significantly more likely to be switching parties than private sector employees (31% vs. 19%).
The survey was conducted by DataPath Systems; an independent Yukon-based market research company. Telephone surveys were conducted with 150 Whitehorse residents and 150 non-Whitehorse residents between March 19-25. The data is weighted to accurately represent Yukoners based on the community they live in, their age and gender. Percentages are statistically valid to +/- 5.5%, 19 times out of 20 (95% confidence). This was a non-commissioned study, paid for by DataPath Systems.