The Atlanta Regional Commission’s Metro Atlanta Speaks (MAS) public opinion survey is in its sixth year. The first MAS survey—done in 2013 , asked 21 questions of 2,100 residents—and was statistically significant only at the 10-county region level. By 2018, the survey has grown to the largest of its type in the region, with 27 questions asked of 5,450 respondents across a 13-county area. Results are statistically significant down to the county-level, as well as for the City of Atlanta. The A.L. Burruss Institute of of Public Service and Research at Kennesaw State University has conducted the survey for five of the survey’s six years–including this year’s edition. The goal in all survey years was to gather resident opinions on how the 10 (or 13)-county Atlanta region rates in terms of key quality-of-life issues like transportation, education, the economy, the arts and aging in the Atlanta region. In 2018, multiple questions were added about affordable housing.
Highlights from this snapshot on the 2018 results:
- Transportation stays the #1 concern, with a greater share (28 percent of respondents) as compared to 2017
- Transit support remains strong,with almost 95 percent agreeing that transit is very important or somewhat important to the region.
- There are perceived gaps in the system, and some momentum building to pursue transit as a component of a solution. 30 percent of residents feel that they have problems accessing transportation; nearly 48 percent of respondents chose “expand public transit” as the best long-term fix to traffic challenges (the highest percentage in the five years of asking about the best fix for congestion), and 50 percent of respondents would be willing to pay more in taxes to expand public transit.
- While our economy is getting better and better overall, it is not improving for everyone. The share of regional residents rating the economy as the #1 problem in metro Atlanta dropped to 6% in 2018, down from 24% in 2013. Butsome 26 percent of respondents would struggle paying for an unexpected financial emergency of $400, and almost 17 percent of respondents reported that they skip meals due to lack of money.
- Housing Affordability is a major issue, regionally, as almost 90 percent or respondents felt that they were paying too much for housing. 25% chose quality of location as the biggest reason they were paying too much, followed by 17% with “quality of neighborhood”
- A broad concern with crime has jumped back up in 2018, and ranks behind “transportation”. 22 percent of respondents in 2018 chose crime as the #1 regional problem, up from 17 percent in 2017, and approaching the 23 percent level of summer, 2016. Only one-third rated safety in their neighborhoods as fair or poor.
- Residents’ optimism for the near-term future is stable. Even with a 2 percentage points decline from 2017 results, 28 percent of respondents believe things will be “better in the next 3-4 years”. 44 percent expect things to stay “about the same”.
Click through the slides below or download the PDF of “Metro Atlanta Speaks: Perceptions of Life in Metro Atlanta”.
More information on results and methodology for the 2018 survey? Check out the ARC Metro Atlanta Speaks website
And be sure to access our MAS Data Dashboard to take an interactive look at 2016-2018 results.