One quarter of the population frets about losing a job in the next year, especially women and workers making $20,000 or less. Two of three people rate the economy ''not so good'' or poor. And four in 10 see times worsening.
A first of its kind in Pennsylvania, the poll is a snapshot of a sunny day with a storm cloud on the horizon. And a sizable number of people fear it will rain.
''A lot of people aren't feeling rosy about the future,'' said Chris Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, which conducted the poll. ''They like the general fabric of life here, but in terms of looking specifically at whether things are getting better that optimism isn't apparent.''
Jennifer Twentier, 29, of Butler County, near Pittsburgh, enjoys the Keystone State.
''We have the best of both worlds,'' she said. ''We have different seasons so we can ski in the winter and swim in the summer. We don't have earthquakes; tornadoes are rare and there's no deadly killer bugs. Everything is pretty perfect.''
But her husband lost his steel fabrication job last year. Although he found new work and she sells medical equipment, they're reeling from the loss of six months' wages.
''We're OK,'' said Twentier, who has two young children. ''Nothing's been repossessed, but things could be better.''
The Quality of Life survey asked 418 Pennsylvanians from Erie to Easton from Feb. 5-13 about their attitudes on 10 aspects of their lives, including education, health care and crime. Its margin of error is plus or minus 4.8 percent.
Nine of 10 Pennsylvania residents find it a good place to raise a family. And 87 percent give it high marks for livability. But the slumping economy is taking a toll, in incomes and attitudes.
The biggest concern is loss of work. Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is at 6.1 percent, the highest it's been in nine years, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry. About 25 percent of those surveyed worry they will lose their job this year.
''That's a major problem,'' said Borick.
Kamran Afshar, a Bethlehem economist, said he didn't need a survey to tell him people are worried about the economy. ''We are not an island from the nation,'' he said.
When high-flying companies such as Agere Systems crash, wiping out 8,000 jobs in the Lehigh Valley and Reading areas alone, people notice. Agere was spun off from Lucent Technologies.
''That causes fears not only for those who lost their jobs, but for those who have relatively stable jobs and never thought Lucent would be in such a situation,'' Afshar said. ''It's a double whammy.''
The likelihood of war with Iraq is also causing apprehension.
''We are all guessing what's going to happen,'' Afshar said, ''but the anxiety affects everything. People postpone purchases and travel as a result.''
Attitudes tied to economy