LMU Survey Finds Angelenos’ Outlooks Mixed: Dip in Local Optimism, Bump in Economic Hopes

Los Angeles County residents have higher hopes for the economy than they did this time last year, but show more signs of pessimism about their cities and neighborhood, according to a survey conducted by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University.

The survey was part of Forecast LA, a conference held Wednesday at LMU, which combines a public opinion poll and a review of traditional economic indicators to provide a snapshot of the region and explore possible future trends.

When asked how things are going in their neighborhood, city, or the greater L.A. region, positive responses this year fell to their lowest levels since the survey began in 2014. Just 59 percent said things are headed in the “right direction” in the Los Angeles region; 70 percent said the same for their city, and 73 percent for their neighborhood.

While the survey has previously identified the trend of greater optimism in areas closer to home, Fernando Guerra, professor of political science and Chicana/o studies at LMU and director of the center, said the overall decline may be attributable to national politics.

“Last year, the survey was in the field in the weeks surrounding the presidential inauguration,” he said. “We’ve lived through a year of President Trump’s proclamations and political moves. We may now be experiencing the full Trump effect on optimism in Los Angeles.”

On the economic side of things, Angelenos are more positive than last year, if only a little. Sixty-one percent expect the national economy will do “much better” or “somewhat better” this year, as opposed to 57 percent making the same prediction last year. As for the regional economy, 68 percent expect an improvement, versus 63 percent last year.

“The survey shows that here in Los Angeles, we’re sticking to our ‘mostly sunny’ economic outlook,” said Brianne Gilbert, associate director of the Center. “Whether that’s based on 2017’s stock market rally, hopes stemming from the tax law passed last year, or our irrepressible optimism, remains to be seen.”

Other data from the survey:

  • 39 percent of women surveyed said they have endured sexual harassment at some point in their lives. The results split along most demographic categories: white and African American women were more likely to say they’d been harassed; reports of harassment declined in older age groups; and self-identified conservatives reported fewer instances than liberals and moderates.
  • Former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has a substantial lead over Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom among Angelenos in the race for the governor’s office. Villaraigosa led Newsom 40-to-17 in registered voters.
  • Respondents generally support the use of drone aircraft by law enforcement in Los Angeles, but not across the board. Older residents reacted more positively; whites and Asian Americans supported the idea, while Latinos split and African Americans opposed it. Overall, the survey found 56 percent in favor.
  • The Dodgers widened their lead as L.A.’s favorite professional sports team. After trailing the Lakers for the first three years of the survey, last year’s World Series contenders won the hearts of 38 percent of our neighbors. The transplanted Rams, even after appearing in the NFL playoffs, still have a long way to go, with just 8 percent.

The survey was conducted by telephone and online in January and February, among 1,200 Los Angeles city residents and 1,200 residents in the rest of Los Angeles County. The margin of error is +/- 3.0 percent.

The full report was released at a morning event at LMU today, when researchers from the Center for the Study of Los Angeles discussed their findings. Other speakers included Los Angeles County Assessor Jeffrey Prang, City Councilman Jose Huizar, Kosmont Companies President and CEO Larry Kosmont, Deputy Mayor of Economic Development William Chun, and LMU President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.

The full reports from the event can be found here.