February 24, 2022

Focus Group Data Shows Pandemic, Cost of Living and Funding for K-12 Education Remain a Priority for Pennsylvanians Across the State

As the Pennsylvania state legislature begins the 2022 session, focus group data released today reinforces concerns and priorities released in previous research.  Pennsylvanians still reeling from the pandemic, want the legislature to take action to address critical pocketbook issues and make forward looking investments in education and healthcare.  The poll was commissioned by the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) and Better PA.

Hearing people talk about the hopes and concerns of their communities whether they are white, Black, Latinx or from Lehigh, Pittsburgh or Philly- there are common values and common worries. Overall Pennsylvanians want a living wage, funded public schools, affordable housing, and access to healthcare;” said Steve Paul, SiX Pennsylvania State Director. “Pennsylvanians want action on what matters-- our economy and our future.”

Target Smart administered five virtual focus groups and centered the conversations on critical economic issues facing Pennsylvanians still in the grip of the pandemic.  The conversations also explored priorities for the state budget and the voting experience. The five on-line focus groups took place in:

  • Allegheny County, Middle Income Black Women
  • Allegheny County, Affluent White Women
  • Delaware County, Low to Middle Income White Men and Women
  • Lehigh Valley, Hispanic or Latino Men and Women
  • Chester County, Low Income Black Men and Women

While qualitative research cannot be generalized, several key themes were repeated in the conversations across groups:

  • The ongoing pandemic, rising crime, and increasing cost of living lead to anxiety across all groups;
  • Participants express frustration and concern around funding of education citing k-12 funding needs and the high cost of childcare;
  • Affordable housing also came up across several groups as an area of growing concern;
  • While some participants praised the state's healthcare system, participants also pointed to areas that need improvement like cost, access and affordability of care and medications; and
  • Some participants experienced lines at their polling locations, but stated that their voting experience went smoothly, but they were divided along racial lines on confidence that their votes counted.

The focus groups took place between January 10-17, 2022 and were hosted on-line via Zoom.

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