Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey Report

Looking at Key Trends in Metro Atlanta

Each year, ARC and its community partners conduct the Metro Atlanta Speaks public opinion survey to take the pulse of metro Atlanta residents and help guide the region’s planning and decision-making.

The survey, which began in 2013, is the largest of its kind the Atlanta region. It offers a snapshot of residents’ views on a range of critical issues, such as transportation, the economy, education, aging and neighborhood quality of life. Metro Atlanta Speaks covers a 13-county region and is statistically significant to the county level, as well as for the City of Atlanta.

The 2018 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey, our sixth, reveals key trends that offer fascinating insights when it comes to the outlook of metro Atlanta.

Transportation Remains Metro Atlanta’s Top Concern

  • When asked to name the biggest problem facing the region, 28 percent of respondents said transportation. For the fifth straight year, this topic topped the list of concerns.
  • Crime came in second at 22 percent, followed by education at 9 percent.
  • About 30% of respondents said they frequently lack transportation to get where they needed to go.

Support for Transit as a Solution is Strong

  • Nearly half – 48 percent – of respondents said expanding public transit is the best long-term traffic solution, the top choice on this year’s survey. That’s up from 41 percent in 2013, the survey’s first year.
  • Half of respondents said they’d be willing to pay more in taxes to fund expanded regional public transit. Support is strongest in the region’s largest jurisdictions: City of Atlanta (60%), DeKalb County (59%), Fulton County (56%), Gwinnett County (50%) and Cobb County (49%)

The Economy Fading Fast as Regional Concern

  • Only 6% of respondents said the economy is the biggest problem facing the region, compared to 24 percent in 2013, when the region was still feeling the effects of the Great Recession.

Yet, Many Still Face Financial Challenges

  • When asked how they’d handle an unexpected $400 expense, more than one in four of respondents – 26% – would either not be able to pay or would have to borrow money, sell or pawn something.
  • About 1 in 6 metro Atlanta residents – 16% – said they had to skip meals or reduce portion sizes to save money.

On the Radar: Housing Affordability

  • In response to a new question this year, nearly 90 percent of us said we are paying more than we should for housing.
  • The top reasons given include quality of location, quality of neighborhood, and lack of affordable housing

About the 2018 Survey

The 2018 survey, conducted by Kennesaw State University’s A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research, asked questions of 5,450 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% for the 13-county region as a whole and +|- 4% to 7% for the individual jurisdictions.

The 2018 Metro Atlanta Speaks poll surveyed residents in Butts, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale counties.

Supporters of the 2018 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey are the United Way of Greater Atlanta, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, MARTA, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the North Fulton Community Improvement District, Invest Atlanta, Partnership Gwinnett, and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.