Home On the Agenda What Do Residents of the Greater New York Metro Area Worry About Most?

What Do Residents of the Greater New York Metro Area Worry About Most?

October 11, 2015

Regardless of where they live, affordability is what residents of the greater NY metro region worry about the most.

Listen to the related story on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show.

Our primary purpose in surveying residents of the greater New York metro area was to understand what issues most concerned them. It turns out, regardless of where people live, affordability is something they worry about the most.

We asked people about 19 different public issues, from housing costs, to crime, to parks and recreation. We wanted to know whether people thought each issue was problem or not in their cities and towns. Everyone, whether they lived in New York City or the suburbs, regardless of age and income, identified these four issues as the most serious problems where they live:

  • High cost of living
  • High cost of housing
  • High taxes
  • High cost of college

Residents also worry about the lack of well-paying and secure jobs and the lack of affordable health care. Again, these concerns cut across demographics and geography, though lower income residents throughout the region and residents of New York City proper are most acutely worried about rising costs and economic instability:*

What’s more, 73 percent of residents say that the middle class is facing more insecurity than ever before and nearly half (49 percent) say they worry a great deal that wages are staying flat.

Overall, the research paints a picture of an increasingly unaffordable metropolitan area where economic insecurity is threatening people’s ability to make ends meet.

We heard similar sentiments in focus groups we held prior to the survey as well. For example, one focus group participant told us:

I think it’s just getting ridiculous, not only for people who are living below the poverty line, but the so-called middle class. I see this every day. My friends, people who have good jobs, but there’s that cost of rent, it’s ridiculous… I hate to see people being pushed out of their neighborhoods and then actually moving out of the city because it’s no longer affordable for them.”

Are you feeling squeezed by rising costs and decreasing opportunity where you live? What would make things better? Tell us your story in the comments below.

* We also asked area residents about the following issues (the numbers in parentheses refer to the percentage of people who said the issue was a serious problem):

Small businesses closing down (64%)
Lack of affordable health care (58%)
Badly maintained roads, bridges or tunnels (55%)
Threat of terrorism (49%)
People lacking a good work ethic (49%)
High rate of crime (44%)
Lack of good public schools (42%)
Too much government regulation of business (42%)
Negative relations between different racial or ethnic groups (41%)
Negative relations between the community and the police (40%)
Threat of storms and floods (39%)
Costly or unreliable public transportation (38%)
Lack of parks or green spaces (27%)