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Anderson poll finds 47% wary of direction in which country is heading; 28% are enjoying the ride

Published:Wednesday | April 24, 2024 | 12:11 AMSashana Small/Staff Reporter
Don Anderson, pollster.
Don Anderson, pollster.
Dr Orville Taylor, sociologist and labour specialist.
Dr Orville Taylor, sociologist and labour specialist.

Nearly half of Jamaicans are of the view that things are going in the wrong direction, citing unemployment among youth as a major indicator.

The findings are the results of a poll conducted by the Don Anderson-led Market Research Services Limited between April 4 and 12 among persons 18 years and older who are eligible to vote.

The survey, which included 1,057 respondents, has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 per cent.

It was commissioned by the People’s National Party (PNP).

The survey found that 47 per cent, or 497 participants, do not believe that things are moving in the right direction. Among this subsection of respondents, 48 per cent said it is because there were too many unemployed or idle youth; 30 per cent pointed to areas that are still without basic necessities such as water, electricity and roads; 22 per cent indicated the need for more educational opportunities; and 21 per cent shared that cost of living is too high.

Respondents were able to give more than one reason to explain their assessment of the direction in which the country is moving.

Conversely, 28 per cent, or 296 people polled, felt that Jamaica is moving in the right direction.

Of that cohort, 45 per cent said the availability of jobs meant that things are going well; 44 per cent pointed to the roads that are being built or repaired; 30 per cent of the respondents pointed to more educational opportunities; a similar 30 per cent noted improvement in personal life and development; while 16 per cent indicated that they now have access to more water.

Twenty-seven per cent of the respondents were unsure or did not know how things were moving.

Pollster Anderson noted that while it is not unusual for most people to be convinced that things are going not in the right direction, it is the first time, based on his recollection, that so many people believe that the country is going in the right direction.

“Generally, when we do these [polls], we have the majority of persons saying that the country is going in the wrong direction – 50-odd per cent, 58 per cent, etc – and we have no more than about 22, 23 per cent saying the country is going in the right direction, so this is an important piece of finding,” he told The Gleaner.

And despite the country recording historic levels of unemployment at 4.2 per cent as at October last year, Anderson asserted: “There’s a difference between the official data and what people are saying on the ground.”

“Not counted in that number is about 700,000 people who are not seeking a job, so that unemployment number is based on persons who are seeking a job. Of those who are seeking, the unemployment rate is relatively low, but not factored for in that calculation is a significant number of persons who are not seeking a job and are not considered among the employed workforce,” he said, explaining why so many participants gave this reason as a justification for why they believe things are going in the wrong direction.

Of significance, he said, is that more young Jamaicans do not believe things are going in the right direction with 23 per cent of participants responding in the affirmative.

Meanwhile, labour specialist and sociologist Dr Orville Taylor told The Gleaner that the findings of the poll should be of concern to the ruling Jamaica Labour Party.

“Clearly, as indicated from the voting behaviour in the local government elections as well as recent Don Anderson polls, which have proven to be relatively accurate, the majority of Jamaicans have pretty much fallen out of love with the Government,” he noted.

A similar Anderson poll commissioned by the PNP last year revealed that 50 per cent of Jamaicans thought things were going in the wrong direction while only 19 per cent thought the country was moving in the right direction.

But Taylor noted that he has yet to see data that would translate into “strong feelings” towards the PNP.

The labour specialist stated that while youth unemployment is at its lowest ever, what is lacking is “decent” employment, adding that governments across administrations have failed to address this.

“What has been happening is that more persons are being employed, but they are employed under fragile work agreements. Therefore, more people are working under the thing that they call contract work; that is, they are not given the full benefits. It is something that still needs to be resolved,” he said.

“We need to find a better way of giving quality work to the people, and not just employment because what you really need is work that gives you a higher degree of social protection and those other kinds of things [like] freedom of association and protection of labour rights,” Taylor added.