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Survey: Economic Anxiety hitting Houston

Houstonians’ attitudes toward jobs, immigration and the role of government are changing as a result of the economy, according an annual survey conducted by Rice University’s Institute of Urban Research.

Photo by J-A-X

As the unemployment rate hit 8.5 percent in March, respondents who said their personal economic situation was getting worse grew to 32 percent this year from 27 percent in 2009.

“When asked how things were going for them, only 20 percent in this year’s survey said their financial situation was getting better,” said Rice sociology professor Stephen Klineberg, in a statement released by the university. “That is the lowest number ever recorded on this question in all 29 years of Houston surveys.”

Klineberg has overseen the survey since its creation.

Sampling some 750 Harris County residents, the survey found that the economy may be influencing Houstonians’ support for government programs. The percentage of respondents who thought the government should take action to reduce the income differences between rich and poor fell to 39 percent today from 44 percent in 1999.

The survey went on to say, however, that 38 percent of respondents felt living conditions in the Houston area over the next three to four years will be better than they are today. Only 16 percent said conditions would get worse.

Attitudes toward immigration were mixed this year. About 47 percent believed that immigrants to the U.S. generally take more from the American economy than they contribute, with 44 percent saying they contribute more than they take.

A higher majority — 62 percent — supported building a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, up from 55 percent in 2008.

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