More Minnesotans are losing ground in the slumping economy and many are making changes in their lives to adjust, according to the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.
Last week, 20 percent of poll respondents said they are in poor financial shape. That's up from 14 percent in a previous poll in September. Also, 37 percent now say they're in "only fair" financial shape.
Economic trouble deepened most for those without a college degree and those with low incomes. Among college graduates, only 9 percent called their financial situation poor, virtually unchanged from last fall. But among respondents with only some college, 21 percent reported a poor situation, up from 14 percent in September, while 26 percent of those with no college said the same, up from 18 percent.
The portion of respondents with incomes of less than $30,000 who said they are in poor financial condition jumped from 28 percent in the fall to 39 percent now. In higher income ranges, reports of poor financial condition also increased, but not as dramatically.
Overall, the percentage of those in good or excellent financial shape has held fairly steady: 6 percent say they are in excellent shape, compared with 7 percent in the fall, and 34 percent rate their situations as good, compared with 38 percent in the fall.
Carolyn Kraskey, 69, of Minneapolis blames the bad economy for her financial condition, which she said is poor.
She owns two beauty schools, one in the St. Anthony Shopping Center and one in Cambridge, but said business is bad. "People don't have money, so they're not going to spend it going to school when they don't have to," she said Sunday.
Kraskey said she can't continue paying a combined $5,000 a month in rent between both places and may have to close them.
Andrea Barnes, 25, of Winona said she's in poor financial shape because of a long job search after she and her boyfriend moved from South Dakota for his teaching job. They moved in August, and she just found a part-time job at Kmart last month doing price changes. "It keeps most of my bills paid," said Barnes, a college graduate.
Sherry Ask, 59, of Cold Spring has taken numerous financial hits. She is among the 18 percent of those surveyed who lost a job or had a spouse lose a job and the 36 percent who had a cut in pay or benefits. She also took on more debt, as did 30 percent of those surveyed. Forty-four percent said they or a spouse cut back or canceled a vacation.
Ask said she had to dip into her 401(k) last year. "My house needed a new roof. The only money I had available was the 401(k)," she said.
Ask, who also does bookkeeping from her home, said she lost income when one her clients, a construction company, went "belly-up."
"It was just one thing after another last year," she said with a laugh. "Happy 2008!"
Suzanne Ziegler • 612-673-1707