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Note: Poll data can be segmented by region: Eastern Plains, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Larimer and Weld, Denver Metro Area and the Western Slope, as well as some populous counties.

DENVER, COLORADO – According to a major survey of nearly 2,500 adults across the state, Coloradans are expressing belief in a strong economic recovery while feeling pinched by the state’s increasing cost of living – from the lack of affordable housing to the high cost of child care. Often financial insecurity is paired with challenges to mental health and well-being, including anxiety and depression.

Pulse: The Colorado Health Foundation Poll is an annual poll conducted by a bipartisan team of researchers: FM3 Research (Democratic) and New Bridge Strategy (Republican). The results open an annual window into the experiences, concerns and priorities of Coloradans.

“When we know more about what Coloradans are thinking, feeling and experiencing, we can better advocate for their health and well-being,” said Karen McNeill-Miller, president and CEO of The Colorado Health Foundation. “Since the pandemic began, so many of us have had to face challenges we never expected, and Pulse shows us who has been hit hardest: women of color trying to balance child care and their countless other responsibilities; families living on low income struggling to keep a roof over their heads or food on their table; and workers facing anxiety and depression after job loss. These are the Coloradans we should be focused on supporting for the long term.”

Coloradans are less concerned about the overall economy in 2021, compared to 2020. This year, 44% of Coloradans consider jobs and the economy to be a serious problem, compared to 63% last year. While confidence in Colorado’s economy is going up, so is the state’s cost of living – particularly for Coloradans of color. About three out of four (73%) Coloradans consider the cost of living an extremely or very serious problem, compared to 64% of 2020 respondents, including greater numbers of Black/African American (81%) and Hispanic/Latinx (83%) Coloradans.

The cost of housing tops the list of concerns statewide; more than eight in 10 (82%) cite it as a serious problem – an increase of 15% from 2020. This concern crosses geography, racial and ethnic lines and partisan divisions; even Coloradans with higher incomes are worried about affordability. About one in five Coloradans (21%) are worried about losing their home because they can’t afford the rent or mortgage; 44% of people with household incomes under $50,000 are worried. Coloradans of color are more likely to be worried about losing their homes, including 38% of Native Americans and one-third of Hispanic/Latinx Coloradans.

"It isn't your imagination – everyone really is talking about housing prices!" said Lori Weigel, Republican pollster for Pulse and Principal of New Bridge Strategy. “More than four in five Coloradans characterize the cost of housing as at least a very serious problem today. It’s rare to find a concern that’s so widespread. That is translating into a desire to take a fresh look at potentially outdated laws and ensure more affordable housing gets built in our state.”

The cost of housing isn’t the only factor squeezing Coloradans’ budgets. Many are also struggling to pay for food, health care and child care. Almost a quarter (24%) of Coloradans living on low incomes have skipped meals because they couldn’t afford food, and 49% have postponed medical or dental care. For parents, the cost of child care is a burden with 24% saying they’ve been unable to find child care that is affordable, including 49% of parents with low income and 31% of mothers of color.

For many Coloradans, financial insecurity is paired with challenges to their mental health and well-being. Those who say their financial situation has gotten worse in the last year are more likely to report anxiety (69%), difficulty focusing (58%) and depression (52%). But emotional strain isn’t only impacting Coloradans who are struggling financially. A majority of all Coloradans say they have experienced anxiety (55%), and more than one-third have faced a range of other mental health challenges, crossing racial and ethnic lines. While a majority (59%) spoke to family or friends about their struggles, only 29% saw a health professional.

“It’s been a difficult year, and most Coloradans are feeling it. Still, few sought the help of a trained professional, raising questions about the availability of those services,” said Dave Metz, Democratic pollster for Pulse and President of FM3 Research. “Given such widespread reports of mental health strain, it’s no surprise that Coloradans overwhelmingly support providing more state-funded mental health and substance use services.”

Details of the poll

Pulse: The Colorado Health Foundation Poll is an annual survey that takes the pulse of a representative sample of Coloradans on important issues that affect our health and well-being. The full 2021 dataset provides insights on Coloradans’ concerns and priorities on a range of topics, including affordable housing, child care and parenting, financial security, health care access and cost, jobs and the economy, hunger, mental health and substance use, racial equity and justice, and COVID-19.

Other details include:

  • Conducted by Democratic firm FM3 Research and Republican firm New Bridge Strategy.
  • 2,493 Colorado adult residents were interviewed from July 27 - August 16.
  • Representative address-based sample where adults were contacted by postcard, phone call, text message and email.
  • Oversamples were conducted of Black/African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans as well as residents of Pueblo County.
  • Respondents were interviewed in English or Spanish.
  • Margin of error is +/-2.7% at the 95% confidence level.
  • A complimentary convenience sampling methodology poll was conducted to reach additional Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), as well as Native Americans.

Resources available for download

The Colorado Health Foundation is committed to transparency; thus, we fully release the results of Pulse. These resources are available in both English and Spanish and include:

About The Colorado Health Foundation

The Colorado Health Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization bringing health in reach for all Coloradans by engaging closely with communities across the state through investing, policy advocacy and research. For more information, please visit