Crime top issue for Atlantans

Crime is residents’ top perceived issue facing metro Atlanta, according to the 2021 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey, released today by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

One in three respondents said crime is the biggest challenge facing metro Atlanta, up from 16% in the 2020 survey. Public health, last year’s top concern, was a distant second at 13%, followed by the economy at 12%.

The survey was conducted amid an increase in violent crime across the region and the U.S., though the level of crime remains below levels seen in the 1980s and 90s.

The 2021 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey included several questions related to the ongoing COVID pandemic and its impact on our population:

  • More than half of respondents said they felt “very safe” or “moderately safe” returning to normal activities…while just 13% said they felt “very unsafe”.
  • One in six residents, or 17%, said they won’t get the coronavirus vaccine.
  • One in three residents, or 33%, said they are working at home all or most of the time, while another 21% did so occasionally. Those figures are up from the findings of the 2020 survey.
  • Some residents continue to struggle as the pandemic wears on. Nearly one in four said they have received food assistance from a food pantry or church in the past year, an increase from a year ago.
  • And 17 percent – or one in six – are “not confident” or only “slightly confident” about their ability to make their next rent or mortgage payment.

“This year’s Metro Atlanta Speaks survey shines a light on the difficult period we are all living through,” said Mike Alexander, Senior Director of ARC’s Center for Livable Communities. “Trends that we spotted in last year’s survey continue this year. More of us than ever are working from home, and unfortunately many of us continue to struggle to make ends meet as the pandemic wears on.”

The 2021 survey also provides insights into residents’ views on the economy.

  • Two out of three respondents said high levels of income inequality have a negative impact on the economy.
  • And more than three in four said ensuring racial equity is essential to maximizing economic growth in our region.
  • In answer to a new question this year, about three in four said increasing the minimum wage would be good for the economy.
  • And when asked what option could best help attract and retain skilled workers, the top responses were creating more job training opportunities followed by increasing affordable housing options.

The 2021 survey, conducted by Kennesaw State University’s A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research, asked questions of 4,800 people across 11 counties about key quality-of-life issues across August and September 2021. Survey results are statistically valid for each of those 11 counties and the city of Atlanta, with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5% for the 11-county region as a whole and plus or minus 3.8% to 5% for the individual jurisdictions.

Funding for the 2021 survey came from the Federal CARES Act, AARP, and the Atlanta Regional Commission.

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