HPU Poll: More than Half of Employed, N.C. Registered Voters Say They Can’t Work from Home

The HPU Poll surveyed registered voters in North Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic.


HIGH POINT, N.C., July 23, 2020 – A new High Point University Poll asked registered voters in North Carolina about working from home and their personal finances during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Half (50%) of the registered voters in the poll said they are employed and have a job. Of those that are employed, 36% said that working from home could be an option if required to do so, while 58% said that is not an option.

Retirees made up one-quarter (25%) of the total group of people polled. Ten percent said that they were unemployed and looking for work, 5% were temporarily laid off, 4% were not in the labor force, and 1% were on sick leave. Of those responding to the HPU Poll, 6% said none of the categories applied to them or refused to respond.

“The HPU Poll numbers on unemployment in North Carolina in July are higher than the official state unemployment rate of 7.6% for June,” says Dr. Peter Summers, associate professor of economics at HPU. “While some of the difference is due to differences in methodology between the two surveys, it’s possible that part of it may be due to weaker economic conditions since COVID-19 cases began increasing again.”

The poll also asked registered voters about their personal finances. When asked if they are better off or worse off financially than they were a year ago, 37% said that they were better off, 31% said worse off, and 31% said neither better or worse. When asked how they think their future finances will be a year from now, 39% of respondents said they would be better off financially, 8% said worse off and 40% said just about the same as now. About 13% didn’t know or didn’t offer a response.

When asked about business conditions, 38% of registered voters said that during the next 12 months the country will have bad times financially. Only about one-quarter (26%) said that the country will have good times financially during the next 12 months, while 9% said neither and 13% didn’t offer a response.

“While 8 out of 10 registered voters we surveyed told us that in the next 12 months they will be better off financially or just about the same as now, they are not as optimistic about the country as a whole,” says Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct instructor. “However, about 40% told us that considering business conditions in the country as a whole, during the next 12 months, there will be bad times financially.”

NC Registered Voters – Employment Status (June/July 2020)

Which statement best reflects your current employment status?

Employed and have a job – 50%

Unemployed and looking for work – 10%

Temporarily laid off – 5%

On sick leave or other leave – 1%

Not in the labor force (not employed and not looking for work) – 4%

Retired – 25%

None of these – 5%

Don’t know/Refused – 1%

(Registered voter sample from NC voter file, surveyed June 15 – July 2 and July 5 – July 17, 2020, n = 422 and margin of sampling error is +/- 6.2%)

NC Registered Voters – Remote Employment (June/July 2020)

Do you have the kind of job where working from home could be an option, if required?

(Only asked of those that indicated they were employed above, n = 255)

Yes – 36%

No – 58%

Don’t know/Refused – 6%

(Registered voter sample from NC voter file, surveyed June 15 – July 2 and July 5 – July 17, 2020, n = 422 and margin of sampling error is +/- 6.2%)

NC Registered Voters – Current Finances (June/July 2020)

We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you (and your family living there) are better off or worse off financially than you were a year ago?

Better Off – 37%
Worse Off – 31%
Same/Neither – 31%
Don’t know/Refused – 1%

(Registered voter sample from NC voter file, surveyed June 15 – July 2 and July 5 – July 17, 2020, n = 422 and margin of sampling error is +/- 6.2%)

NC Registered Voters – Future Finances (June/July 2020)

Now looking ahead, do you think that a year from now you (and your family living there) will be better off financially, or worse off, or just about the same as now.

Better Off – 39%
Worse Off – 8%
About the same – 40%
Don’t know/Refused – 13%

(Registered voter sample from NC voter file, surveyed June 15 – July 2 and July 5 – July 17, 2020, n = 422 and margin of sampling error is +/- 6.2%)

Business Conditions – Registered Voters

Now turning to business conditions in the country as a whole, do you think that during the next 12 months we’ll have good times financially, or bad times, or what?

Good Times – 26%
Bad Times – 38%
Neither – 9%
Good times with qualifications – 10%
Bad times with qualifications – 4%
Don’t know/Refused – 13%

(Registered voter sample from NC voter file, surveyed June 15 – July 2 and July 5 – July 17, 2020, n = 422 and margin of sampling error is +/- 6.2%)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers working remotely through the High Point University Survey Research Center, calling June 15 – July 2 and July 5 – July 17, 2020. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 422 registered voters interviewed on landline or cellular telephones. The Survey Research Center drew this sample from the voter file made public by the North Carolina State Board of Elections (https://www.ncsbe.gov/Public-Records-Data-Info/Election-Results-Data). The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.8 percentage points for registered voter respondents. Taking into account a design effect as a result of weighting, the adjusted margin of error is 6.2 percentage points. The data is weighted toward population (NC registered voters) estimates for age, gender, and race/ethnicity based on the parameters of the full voter file at the North Carolina State Board of Elections as well as education level based on US Census estimates. Factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls. Details from this survey are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2020/07/72memoA.pdf

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/. The materials online include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

The HPU Poll reports methodological details in accordance with the standards set out by AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, and the HPU Survey Research Center is a Charter Member of the Initiative. For more information, see

http://transparency.aapor.org/index.php/transparency.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, chair and associate professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald is the associate director of the HPU Poll.

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