Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina residents are less optimistic about the state's economy than they were two years ago, according to a WRAL News poll released Thursday.
SurveyUSA polled 2,100 adults statewide Monday through Wednesday and also found that the majority of people think all public school teachers should receive pay raises and that most people believe Duke Energy should pick up the tab for cleaning up coal ash ponds at 14 North Carolina power plants.
When asked whether the state economy would be stronger, weaker or the same a year from now, only 23 percent of respondents predicted better days ahead. Forty percent said the economy would remain fairly steady in the coming year, while 32 percent said the economy would trail off.
The same question was asked in WRAL News polls conducted in March and October 2012.
In March 2012, 34 percent of those polled were bullish on the economy, compared with 19 percent who were bearish. Thirty-nine percent said the economy would be the same over the course of a year.
Seven months later, poll respondents were even more optimistic, with 52 percent predicting a stronger economy and only 7 percent saying things were going to get worse. A quarter of those polled said the economy would remain the same.
The latest poll also asked people about raises for teachers. Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders have proposed boosting the pay of starting teachers but haven't committed to any across-the-board increases.
Fifty-two percent of those polled said all teachers deserve a raise, while only 5 percent said raises should be limited to teachers with nine years or less of experience. Thirty-six percent said teacher pay should be based on classroom performance, an idea advocated by some lawmakers, while 5 percent said no raises should be offered at this time.
Regarding coal ash, 61 percent of those polled disapprove of the way state officials have handled a Feb. 2 coal ash spill in the Dan River, compared with 23 percent who said regulators have done a good job. Eighty-eight percent said Duke should pay to clean up the ash ponds at its North Carolina power plants, while only 9 percent said the costs should be passed on to customers through higher electric rates. Duke officials have said the company would pay to clean up the Dan River spill but would ask the state Utilities Commission for permission to raise rates to cover the cost of disposing of the ash in its remaining ponds.