Oregon

Survey Doesn’t Confirm Reputed Pacific Northwest Cold Shoulder

By reputation, residents of the Pacific Northwest can be cold, aloof and even uninterested in forging new friendships. A new survey doesn’t exactly confirm that reputation.

By reputation, residents of the Pacific Northwest can be cold, aloof and even uninterested in forging new friendships. A new survey doesn’t exactly confirm that reputation.

A survey of Washington and Oregon respondents drew press attention this week by allegedly confirming the cold shoulder Pacific Northwest residents reputedly give to newcomers. The actual poll results aren’t quite that conclusive or simple.

The headlines blared that Pacific Northwest residents are aloof and unfriendly, but the survey data associated with the claim doesn’t really bear that out, as 59% of respondents think making friends is extremely, very or somewhat important compared to 40% who don’t. The 40% got the headline.

The headlines blared that Pacific Northwest residents are aloof and unfriendly, but the survey data associated with the claim doesn’t really bear that out, as 59% of respondents think making friends is extremely, very or somewhat important compared to 40% who don’t. The 40% got the headline.

The 2019 PEMCO Insurance survey question that produced attention-grabbing headlines asked, “Right now in your life, how important is it to you to make new friends?” Out of 1,235 responses, 40 percent said making new friends was “not important” or “not at all important.” What the headlines didn’t reflect was that 59 percent of respondents said making new friends was “extremely important,” “very important” or “somewhat important.”

Survey results were broken down between Washington (635) and Oregon (600) respondents. Washingtonians were slightly more open to making friends than the overall findings (62%-38%), while Oregonians were less friend-seeking (57%-42%). The 1 percent who didn’t know was from Oregon.

The Seattle Times story describing the survey results carried this headline: “Seattle Freeze: Forget making friends – half of Washington residents don’t even want to talk to you.” That seems quite a leap from the actual survey findings.

When you segment the findings by gender, age and family status, you get a more nuanced picture. Male respondents expressed more importance to making friends than female respondents. So did younger adults over older adults and respondents with children over respondents with no children. The most striking statistic is that Washingtonians appear more open to making friends than Oregonians. 

Another question in the survey was, “Even if it’s not important to you right now, how easy or difficult do you think it is to make friends in the city where you live.” Again, the findings weren’t all that headline-grabbing – 36 percent said making friends is “very easy” or “somewhat easy” compared to 37 percent who said it was “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult.” Twenty-five percent said it was neither easy nor difficult.

There wasn’t much statistically different in the answers of Washington and Oregon respondents. Like the previous question, younger adults and adults with children found making friends easier than older adults and adults without children. Males again said it was easier to make friends than females.

The reputation of Pacific Northwest residents as cold and aloof may be true, but these poll results don’t really confirm that. They certainly don’t back up the suggestion that people in our region don’t want to talk to non-friends or newcomers.

The survey results do substantiate that, for many people, making friends isn’t a high priority and that, for some, entering new friendships isn’t easy. We didn’t really need a headline to tell us that. 

[CFM Research is committed to integrity and objectivity in framing questions, conducting surveys with representative samples and analyzing findings fairly and accurately.]

If You Didn't Live Here, You Might Not Retire Here

Oregon has spectacular mountains and a beautiful coastline, but a new study says it also has a high cost-of-living, high taxes and a lot of rain that may deter retirees from settling here.

Oregon has spectacular mountains and a beautiful coastline, but a new study says it also has a high cost-of-living, high taxes and a lot of rain that may deter retirees from settling here.

Data shows Oregon may not be the greatest place to retire. Florida ranks higher because it offers a lot of sun. South Dakota ranks higher because it has a relatively modest cost of living, a low tax rate, safe streets and an above-average health care system.

The "Best and Worst Places to Retire in 2015," compiled by Bankrate, lists Oregon as the 10th worst roost for retirees. Here is what the report says:

"Oregon is one of the happier states in the country, and it's easy to see why. Residents of this Pacific Northwest state have the ocean, forest and craft beer at their fingertips. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which tracks community well-being around the country, gave Oregon an above-average rating for people who were retirement age.

"Unfortunately, Oregon can be tough on a lot of people who live on a fixed income. The state has the seventh-highest cost of living in the nation, according to retail statistics from the Council for Community and Economic Research. In Portland, for example, apartments charge more than double the national average rent at $2,196 per month, according to Council for Community and Economic Research's 2014 report. A trip to the doctor was 27.7 percent higher than average, and gasoline was 11.7 percent above the national average.

"Oregon also has high taxes. The Tax Foundation estimates its state and local tax burden at 10.1 percent, which is above the national average of 9.8 percent.

"And, the state received poor scores for its weather. Sunny days are rare in Portland, for example."

The bottom 10 places to retire includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, New Jersey and Alaska. It also includes Hawaii and New York. It may not be the kind of company Oregonians want to keep.

Bankrate says it based its ranking on publicly available data and gave more weight to some factors based on survey research to find out what mattered most to people considering a move in retirement. It notes that 60 percent of senior citizens express a desire to move when they retire.

"Consider our list a starting point in a conversation about where to find the perfect place," Bankrate says. "It'll show you the relevant statistics you ought to consider before making a decision."

It also cautions that the study doesn't take into account personal factors such as remaining close to family and friends, "even if that means moving to a low-ranking state."

Oregon Taxes: Time for a Change, or Not

April is income tax time and Oregon business decision-makers say it is time to change Oregon’s tax system.

Oregon’s current tax structure relies primarily on revenues from income taxes to fund state programs. When unemployment increases, state revenues drop, causing budget shortfalls. With this in mind:

  • 69 percent of Oregon decision-makers say it is time to overhaul the state’s tax system; and
  • Another 18 percent say change is needed but not now.

One proposed solution is shifting a portion of the tax burden from the current income tax dependent system to a joint income/sales tax system. Oregon is one of five states with no statewide sales tax. (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire are the other four.)