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Life is unfair — especially when it comes to money.

Only one in five Oregonians says the economic system of the United States is fair for all, according to a new poll by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center.

The public opinion nonprofit’s recent survey also found that nearly seven in 10 state residents rate Oregon’s economy as middling-to-lousy, though the other three see things as good-to-great. That might not seem like much to crow about, but it’s actually a sign of a sunnier outlook, compared to what polling figures showed when the end of the pandemic was nowhere in sight.

“This is an improvement from a September 2020 DHM Panel survey, when only two in 10 rated conditions as excellent,” Oregon Values and Beliefs said in a briefing.

Residents are somewhat split on whether things are getting better, worse, or just plodding along, per the polling.

Even when examining conditions closer to home, where survey respondents are in general more likely to find a silver lining, only one-third gave a thumbs up when asked about the economy in their town.

“The cost to live in Oregon has become outrageous,” said one survey respondent, identifying as a Republican woman living in suburban Clackamas County. “I think many have learned this and are planning to move out of the state or start an emergency fund.”

OVBC conducted the online survey of 600 Oregonians, who were selected to be statistically representative of state demographics, in early April. The margin of error is 2% to 4% depending on the question. Here are the takeaways:

• 72% say the American economic system favors the rich and powerful, compared with 19% who believe it offers a fair shake and 8% who are unsure. Those earning less than $50,000 annually (77%) were more likely to see a rigged deck, while a larger share of economic conservatives (34%) believe things are generally even.

• Almost one third (30%) of Oregonians think the state economy is doing good or great, compared to 68% who gave it a poor grade and 2% who were unsure. Democrats (39%) are more likely to give the economy high marks, as are college grads (42%). The middle-aged (72%) and those with no education beyond a high school diploma (71%) were more likely to pan the economy.

• Slightly less than a quarter (22%) say Oregon’s economy is improving, while 39% said it was trending toward equilibrium, 34% said it was getting worse and 4% were unsure. Rural residents (47%) were more likely to see the numbers turning red, while urbanites (31%) were in the black.

• About three in 10 (32%) say the economy is favorable in their town, but the majority (65%) said it’s not, with the remaining 3% unsure. Those in the rural-to-suburban exurbs (57%) were more likely to say their community is successful than either town or country dwellers. In general, “exurbs” are urban centers unattached to a main metro area — think McMinnville — as opposed to a “suburb,” such as Tigard.

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