LOS ANGELES – (UCLA) The people of Los Angeles County are not happy. They don’t like to pay more for gasoline, fresh eggs or electricity. They worry about their family’s health and their children’s education. They don’t like to hear that homelessness and crime are on the rise, and their trust in public servants to solve these problems is on the decline. What about COVID-19? They just want to get this over with.

These are some of the key takeaways from the latest Quality of Life Index, or QLI, a Los Angeles Initiative project at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs that measures county resident satisfaction levels in nine categories. . The overall rating fell sharply from 58 last year to 53 on a scale of 10-100, marking the first time it has fallen below the survey’s midpoint of 55 points since the launch of the index in 2016. This means that a majority of respondents are dissatisfied with the overall quality of their life.

“For the first time since this survey began, respondents’ ratings dropped in each of the nine categories, and eight of the nine fell to their lowest rating,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative, who oversees the index.

The researchers noted that overall satisfaction remained relatively stable, between 56 and 59, throughout the first six years of the survey, despite the drought, fires and profound societal changes of the pandemic. But that changed with soaring prices for food, gasoline and utilities in recent months – a trend that accelerated in the weeks after Russian troops invaded Ukraine in late february.

“What the pandemic hasn’t been able to do over the past two years, inflation and rising violent and property crime have managed to do,” Yaroslavsky said. “It looks like the dam broke this year.”

This year’s QLI is based on interviews conducted in English and Spanish with 1,400 county residents over 30 days beginning March 5. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6%.

Scores fell in all nine survey categories, but the issues most responsible for the overall decline were cost of living, education and public safety.

“These three issues contributed heavily to the overall decline in satisfaction among our respondents,” Yaroslavsky said. “Obviously they are leading the political debate in this year’s municipal and departmental elections.”

Among other results:

  • The biggest drop was the cost of living score, which fell to 39 from 45 last year.
  • The public safety score fell to 56 from 60 last year (and 64 in 2020), largely due to growing concerns about property crime and violent crime.
  • The transport and traffic score fell to 51 from 56 last year.
  • The jobs and economy score fell to 56, from 60 in 2021.
  • The education score fell to 46, a new low, from 48 last year.

Most respondents, 69%, said life has been fundamentally changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 28% said life would go back to how it was.

“COVID has wreaked havoc on our society in profound ways,” Yaroslavsky said. “This discovery – that life has been permanently altered – is perhaps the most profound.”

Among survey respondents who are employed, 55% said they always leave home to get to work, 18% always work from home, and 25% have a hybrid schedule.

Many respondents said their income had dropped during the pandemic, with 15% saying it had dropped a lot and 16% saying it had dropped a little. Of those whose incomes fell, 33% said they had fallen behind on their rent or mortgage, and 7% said they had to move for financial reasons.

A potentially lasting consequence of the pandemic concerns education. Seventy-one percent of parents of school-aged children said they felt their children had been significantly harmed academically or socially by having to learn remotely. This figure was only slightly lower than the 2021 survey, although most students had returned to in-person instruction by the time the 2022 study was conducted. The most worried parents are those who leave home to go to work (79%) and those whose income is less than $60,000 (76%).

The survey also looked at the approval ratings of local elected officials. Mayor Eric Garcetti was viewed favorably by 45% of respondents, up from 62% in 2020.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva received mixed ratings: 37% very or somewhat supportive and 33% very or somewhat unfavorable, with 30% having no opinion or not knowing Villanueva. Meanwhile, the perception of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has declined markedly from 2021. He was viewed very or somewhat favorably by 22% of respondents this year, down from 31% in 2021; 44% consider Gascón very or rather unfavorable in the latest survey.

The Quality of Life Index is funded by Meyer and Renee Luskin through the Los Angeles Initiative. The full report was released April 22 as part of UCLA’s Luskin Summit, held at UCLA’s Luskin Conference Center.

The IQQ was prepared in partnership with public opinion research firm FM3 Research.

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