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2020 Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey Shows Impact of COVID-19


1 in 4 Respondents Lost Job or Furloughed, Nearly 1 in 5 Residents Visited a Food Bank

Atlanta — Nov 13, 2020

One in four metro Atlantans who were employed before the pandemic were been laid-off, terminated, or furloughed due to the COVID-19 virus, and nearly 1 in 5 (18%) residents received help from a food bank since March, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission’s 2020 Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey, released today at the agency’s virtual State of the Region Breakfast.

These were among findings from new survey questions that gauged how the pandemic and related economic downturn has affected the Atlanta region. Other highlights include:

  • Nearly half (45%) of all respondents said that they either had hours or waged reduced, or had to quit for safety reasons.
  • Nearly 58% said they knew someone who had contracted COVID-19.
  • One-third of workers said they had worked from home as a result of the pandemic.

17% named public health as the region’s biggest problem — that’s up from 7% in 2019 — followed by crime (16%). The economy came in third at 15% — up from 7% in 2019.

This year’s survey also provided insights into the state of race relations in metro Atlanta, a topic that drew heightened attention during this summer’s demonstrations.

Nearly 12% of survey respondents named race relations as the region’s biggest concern, compared to just 4% in 2019. And on a new question this year, more than three-quarters of respondents (77%) either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “Discrimination against Black people in the United States is a serious problem.”

Race relations is a particular issue of concern to young adults ages 18-34, the survey showed. Among respondents in this age group, 90% said they agreed or strongly agreed that discrimination against Black people is a serious problem, compared to 64% of those age 65 and older.

“This year’s Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey demonstrates how the pandemic and related economic fallout have exacerbated long-standing disparities in our community,” said Doug Hooker, Executive Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission. “Now, more than ever, we need to come together, actively listen to one another, and forge solutions to act upon, so we can build bridges of understanding and pathways toward progress, which create a region that works for all residents.”

The 2020 survey, conducted by Kennesaw State University’s A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research, asked questions of 4,400 people across 10 counties about key quality-of-life issues in late July and August of 2020. Survey results are statistically valid for each of those 10 counties and the city of Atlanta, with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5% for the 10-county region as a whole and plus or minus 3.8% to 5% for the individual jurisdictions.

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta is a supporter of the 2020 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey.

For additional information about the 2020 survey, including county level results, please visit

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is the official planning agency for the 10-county Atlanta Region, including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties as well as the City of Atlanta, and 73 other cities.  The Atlanta Regional Commission serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention and planning resources on key regional issues.

The 2020 Metro Atlanta Speaks poll surveyed residents in Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale counties.

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Contact Name: Kate Sweeney
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