Each year, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), with our community partners, conducts a survey to take the pulse of metro Atlanta residents and help guide the region’s planning and decision-making.
The Metro Atlanta Speaks survey is the largest of its kind in our region, offering a statistically valid snapshot of residents’ views on a range of critical issues, across 13 counties and the City of Atlanta.
This year’s Metro Atlanta Speaks survey is our fourth, and we’re starting to see some fascinating trends that offer even deeper insights. Highlights of this year’s results are below. You can also explore the full results using the Metro Atlanta Speaks data dashboard.
Transportation remains metro Atlanta’s top concern
According to the survey, 25 percent of respondents said transportation was the biggest problem facing the Atlanta region, the third straight year this topic topped the list of residents’ concerns.
A question added to this year’s survey sheds light on the region’s challenge: Nearly 1 in 3 respondents said they frequently lacked the transportation to get where they need to go.
Support for public transit remains strong, with 92 percent of respondents saying improving public transit is “very important” or “somewhat important” to metro Atlanta’s future.
And 43 percent of respondents said expanding public transit is the best long-term solution to the region’s traffic problems, while 32 percent preferred improving roads and highways.
Metro Atlanta’s improving economy was reflected in this year’s survey
Nearly half of respondents said job opportunities in the region are “excellent” or “good” – up from 36 percent in 2013.
And just 12 percent of residents said the economy was the region’s biggest problem, compared to 24 percent in 2013.
However, many residents still face financial difficulties
New questions about financial stability make it clear that not everyone in the Atlanta region is benefitting from the improved economy.
Only half of respondents said they could pay for a $400 emergency right away, with cash, check or debit card. About 14 percent said would not be able to pay at all, while an additional 6 percent said they’d have to sell or pawn something.
And nearly one in five residents said they sometimes skipped meals or reduced portion sizes because of a lack of money.
“While our economy is improving overall, this survey makes it clear that not everyone is benefitting,” said Mike Alexander, director of ARC’s Center of Livable Communities. “This is not an isolated problem. Poverty exists across metro Atlanta, from the region’s core to the suburbs. Metro Atlanta Speaks provides a greater understanding of the challenges facing our region.”
Other key findings from this year’s survey:
About 23 percent of those surveyed said crime was the biggest issue facing the region, up sharply from 17 percent in 2015 and 14 percent in 2014. However, 65 percent of respondents said they feel safe in their own communities, up from 60 percent last year.
Metro Atlanta residents are generally upbeat about where they live, with 66 percent of respondents rating the region as a good or excellent place to live and 79 percent rating their neighborhood as good or excellent place to live.
And 35 percent of those surveyed said life will be better in metro Atlanta in 3-4 years, up from 28 percent in 2013.
The 2016 survey, conducted by Kennesaw State University’s A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research, asked questions of more than 5,400 people across 13 counties about key quality-of-life issues. The survey is statistically valid for each county and the City of Atlanta, with a margin of error of 1.3 percent for the 13-county region as a whole and 4 percent to 7 percent for the individual jurisdictions.
Supporters of the 2016 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey are the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, MARTA, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the North Fulton Community Improvement District, Invest Atlanta, Partnership Gwinnett and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.
For more results from the 2016 survey, please visit www.atlantaregional.com/metroatlspeaks.