The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) released the results of its second annual Metro Atlanta Speaks public opinion poll today, Nov. 7, at its State of the Region Breakfast.

Support for public transit remains very strong throughout the region, with a whopping 92 percent (up from 88 percent in 2013) saying that improving public transit is either very important or somewhat important. Even at the county level, a majority of residents believe that improved public transit is very important to the region’s future.

Metro residents are more upbeat about the economy in 2014, with 43 percent saying job opportunities in the region are excellent or good, compared to 36 percent in 2013. Optimism was also evident in responses to the question about the issue of greatest concern in the region. Traffic took the top spot with 24 percent of the responses, while the economy was the issue of most concern in 2013.

Perceptions of the economy are not uniform throughout the region, however. The economy was still seen as the biggest problem by residents of DeKalb (17 percent), Fayette (25 percent) and Rockdale (26 percent) counties, while transportation was the overwhelming choice in Clayton (32 percent) and Gwinnett (30 percent) counties.

The topic of education reveals some interesting differences at the county and regional levels. Like last year, in 2014, people rated public education in the district where they live as better than public education in the region as a whole. Fifty-three percent of respondents said that public education in their district is “excellent” or “good.” Only 37 percent felt the same about education in the region as a whole. Residents of Fayette County had the most positive perceptions of education at both the local and regional levels, while residents of Clayton County had the lowest perceptions of local public education and Cobb County residents the lowest perception of education at a regional level.

Overall, people seem pretty happy with life in metro Atlanta. When asked, “If you could move, where would you move,” 57 percent of respondents said they would stay where they are now (the same response as last year), while 17 percent said they would move to a different neighborhood in metro Atlanta, and 24 percent said they would move away from metro Atlanta.

The long-term goal of the survey is to track residents’ perceptions of key policy and quality of life issues over time. The 2014 survey, conducted by The Schapiro Group, asked 25 questions of 4,200 residents of the 10-county Atlanta region about key quality-of-life issues like transportation, education, the economy, the arts and aging in the region. The regional survey margin of error for 2014 is +- 1.5 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. The county-level margin of error is +- five percent.

While each year’s survey provides a point-in-time understanding of how residents perceive the quality of life in metro Atlanta, the true value is in understanding how perceptions change over time. ARC will seek community partners to produce the survey annually. Supporters in 2014 were the Metro Atlanta Chamber, The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, MARTA and the Council for Quality Growth.

For more results from the 2014 survey, visit atlantaregional.com/sorb.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.