November 3, 2017

Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey Report


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 2017 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey, our fifth, reveals key trends that offer fascinating insights when it comes to the outlook of metro Atlanta.

2017 Metro Atlanta Speaks

Survey Highlights:

Transportation remains metro Atlanta’s top concern

  • When asked to name the biggest problem facing the region, 27 percent of respondents said transportation. For the fourth straight year, this topic topped the list of concerns.
  • Crime came in second at 17 percent, followed by education at 12 percent.

Support for transit is strong, and growing

  • Nearly half – 49 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 43 percent last year and 41 percent in 2013, the survey’s first year.
  • In a new question this year, 51 percent of respondents said they’d be willing to pay more in taxes to fund expanded regional public transit. Support is strongest in Gwinnett and Fulton counties, at 56 percent.
  • And, 94 percent of respondents saying improving public transit is “very important” or “somewhat important” to metro Atlanta’s future. That’s up from 88 percent in 2013.

Metro Atlanta’s improving economy was also reflected in this year’s survey

  • Only nine percent of respondents said the economy is the biggest problem facing the region, compared to 24 percent in 2013.
  • Meanwhile, 52 percent said job opportunities were “excellent” or “good,” compared to 36 percent in 2013. And 72 percent would stay in metro Atlanta if given the choice.

However, the survey also shed light on the financial challenges faced by many residents

  • 1 in 7 respondents – 14 percent – said they wouldn’t be able to pay an unexpected $400 expense.
  • Another 15 percent said they’d have to borrow money or pawn or sell something to cover the cost.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 metro Atlanta residents said they had to skip meals or reduce portion sizes to save money.
  • And more than one in four respondents – 27 percent – said they frequently lack transportation to get where they needed to go.

View the Report

About the 2017 survey

The 2017 survey, conducted by Kennesaw State University’s A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research, asked questions of more than 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 percent for the 13-county region as a whole and 4 percent to 7 percent for the individual jurisdictions.

Supporters of the 2017 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey are the United Way of Greater 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.