40th Kinder Houston Area Survey finds Houstonians are hopeful despite tough year

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The 40th annual Kinder Houston survey was released, and despite a challenging year, Houstonians are hopeful about the future.

For the past four decades, Rice University's Kinder Houston Area Survey has been tracking the continuities and changes in the attitudes and beliefs, opinions, and experiences of Harris County residents.

More than 48,000 area residents have been interviewed, according to Rice.

"There was a clear drop in the percent of respondents reporting that they were doing better in the past three years, but no decline at all in area residents' belief that they will be better off three to four years down the road," Rice said in a press release. "Despite that optimistic perspective, this year's survey underlines in stark terms the deepening economic hardships being experienced in this city, and their close association with the respondents' ethnic backgrounds. Only the reports of stress and emotional problems seemed to be evenly distributed among Houston's four major ethnic communities."

Public Health #1 Issue

According to researchers, public health rarely made an impression in previous surveys, but this year, it was understandably at the top.

Twenty-five percent mentioned the pandemic or health relates issues.

When it came to work, 58% of Black individuals and 68% of Hispanic individuals said they had to risk exposure to COVID-19 to keep their jobs. In comparison, 41% of Asian individuals and 36% of white individuals said they had to risk exposure.

Mental health issues were also cited in equal numbers among all ethnic communities.

Jobs and the Economy

The survey found 61% of Houstonians had a positive view of the job market after the economic shutdown triggered by the pandemic. This was down from 68% in 2020.

Despite the current uncertainty, when asked how they thought they would be doing in three or four years down the road, 57% of participants were just as confident as in past surveys that better times are in the future.

Race Relations

In the year following the murder of George Floyd, positive ratings of relations among ethnic groups in the Houston area declined across the board, especially among Black participants.

The number of people who said the criminal justice system is biased against Black people increased to 54% from 32% in 2015, when the question was last asked.

Immigration

When it comes to immigration, 88% of participants supported allowing the children of undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens, up from 76% in 2013.

The survey found 69% support a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.

Inequality

Rice found 85% of the survey participants said the government should do more to solve the country's problems, and 58% said government has a responsibility to help reduce the inequalities in America.

The survey also found area residents were less likely than in previous surveys to think it's almost certain the region will experience more severe storms in the coming years - 59% compared to 81% in 2018 and in 2020.

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