Poll: Southerners optimistic about the economy, but not jobs

COLUMBIA, S.C. _ Southerners are more optimistic about the nation's economy than they were nine months ago but far more worried about losing their jobs, a poll conducted for Winthrop University and ETV found.

About 44 percent of those polled said that economic conditions in the country are getting better. That's up sharply from August 2008, when only 19.5 percent of those surveyed in 11 Southern states, including South Carolina, told Winthrop/ETV pollsters they thought the country's economy was improving.

At that time, just more than a quarter of those polled said they were very or somewhat concerned about losing their jobs in the next year.

Now, that figure stands at 41.5 percent.

Mary Hines, a 68-year-old retiree from Summerville who was part of the poll, said that three members of her family are looking for work.

A Republican, Hines said there's plenty of blame to distribute for the nation's economic woes. "I’m aggravated at both Republicans and Democrats for allowing all of this to happen," she said.

At 11.5 percent, South Carolina continues to have the highest jobless rate in the South, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the 11 Southern states polled for Winthrop and ETV, only four _ Texas, Virginia, Louisiana and Arkansas _ had unemployment rates that were lower than the national rate, which stands at 8.9 percent.

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