TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A majority of Oklahomans believe the nation's economy is getting worse, according to the findings of a new poll.
Only 4 percent of the 750 likely voters surveyed July 19-23 for the Oklahoma Poll said the national economy was improving, while more than 80 percent said it is getting worse.
The poll's findings indicate that optimism about the economy is declining in the state.
In January, 11 percent said the national economy was improving, and 73 percent said it was declining. Only 13 percent thought Oklahoma's economy was continuing to grow in the July survey, compared to 24 percent in January.
In July, 10 percent said their personal situations were improving, compared to 28 percent in January.
In past surveys, Oklahomans have tended to view the state's economy more favorably than the nation's. That remained the case in the most recent poll, but just over half of those responding thought Oklahoma's economy was deteriorating, too.
The poll was conducted by SoonerPoll.com for the Tulsa World and television station KOTV. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.58 percentage points.
Tulsans were somewhat more pessimistic than residents of Oklahoma City, and Democrats took a dimmer view of the economy than Republicans. The survey was conducted days after the first reports of Tulsa-based SemGroup's pending collapse.
Although Republicans remained somewhat more upbeat about the economy, their confidence slid sharply during the first half of the year. In January, 36 percent said their personal finances were improving, and only 27 percent said they were deteriorating.
In July, only 15 percent of Republicans said their situation was improving, while 38 percent said it was getting worse.
A similar drop could be seen in higher income brackets. More than two-thirds of those making at least $125,000 in the January survey said their personal finances were continuing to improve. By July, that figure had dropped by nearly half, to 35 percent.
At the other end of the income scale, only 2 percent of those making under $15,000 a year remained optimistic about their personal finances, while 53 percent said their own situation was getting worse.
Clifford Adams, a retired auto-CAD drafter, said he's had to take part-time jobs to make ends meet.
“I think the situation is serious,” he said. “I'm not sure what they're going to do to solve it.”
Game warden Robert Fleenor said he may delay retirement because of economic conditions.
“I don't really want to carry a gun past 62, but I may have to,” Fleenor said.
Fleenor identified health care costs and fuel prices as the leading concerns of someone in his position.
“With fuel going up, the price of food goes up, too,” he said. “That will really affect everybody. I think it's a long-term thing that will have to be worked on. Congress is going to have to get along and get something going because the citizens of this country are suffering because of it.”
The economy remained No. 1 on the list of greatest problems facing Oklahoma, named by 23 percent of respondents.
Fuel prices jumped from less than 1 percent to 18 percent for second place, followed by education at 13 percent, its lowest standing in the Oklahoma Poll since late 1997.
Illegal immigration, tied for first last December, continued to slip with fewer than 5 percent of those surveyed naming it the most serious issue.