By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sixty percent of California voters are dissatisfied with the state's economy, with those in inland areas hardest hit by the recession of recent years expressing greater pessimism than voters in coastal areas, according to a poll released on Monday.
The jobless rate stood at 5.9 percent in California as of September, according to the state's Employment Development Department, down slightly from 6.1 percent in August but still higher than the national rate of 5.1 percent.
But the survey of registered voters, conducted by the University of Southern California's Dornslife College of Arts and Letters and the Los Angeles Times, exposed a wide gulf in outlook between the wealthier coastal areas and blue collar inland communities, experts said.
"Coastal and inland California have become two increasingly different states - economically, culturally and philosophically," said Dan Schnur, director of USC's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.
"Californians who live in the eastern part of the state tend to have less education and lower incomes, so it's no surprise that they are much less satisfied with the economy as well," Schnur said.
According to the poll, 52 percent of voters from the Bay Area, home to San Francisco and the Silicon Valley tech hub, said they were satisfied with the overall economic situation in California. In Los Angeles County, 45 percent of voters pronounced themselves satisfied.
But only 21 percent of voters in the so-called Inland Empire, comprising working-class San Bernardino and Riverside counties, and 32 percent of those in the Central Valley, expressed satisfaction with the economy.
The poll also found that voters with higher incomes and education levels were more hopeful about the future, with Republicans more concerned than Democrats about economic changes.
According to the survey, 57 percent of respondents said they had just enough money to maintain their standard of living, while 22 percent described themselves as getting ahead financially and 19 percent saying they were falling behind.
The survey was conducted between Oct. 29 and Nov. 3 of 2,009 registered voters in California and an additional national sample of 3,035 registered voters across the country. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for California voters and 2.5 percent for rest of the country.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Ken Wills)