Friday, June 28, 2013

Sangamon County Citizen Survey measures local quality of life issues

Read the full survey

Results from the 2013 Sangamon County Citizen Survey, the first formal survey of its kind measuring local quality of life issues, have been released.

The survey was a joint project between the University of Illinois Springfield Center for State Policy & Leadership, the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, and the United Way of Central Illinois. It measured nine different indicators, including culture and recreation, health, economy, education, government and civic participation, environment, public safety, infrastructure, and social well-being.

In measuring social well-being, the survey found that 59.5% of Sangamon County residents reported that things are generally on the right track, compared to 30.6% who believe things are going in the wrong direction. A majority of residents also rated Sangamon County as a positive place to raise children, live, and work. However, they were less positive about Sangamon County as a place to retire.

A total of 618 Sangamon County residents were surveyed in a random telephone sample between March 7 and April 9, 2013.

“It’s our hope that this survey will be a useful resource for citizens and leaders across Sangamon County who want to better understand public perceptions on critical issues,” said John Stremsterfer, president and CEO of Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln.

Overall, respondents reported that the biggest change needed (if any) in order to improve K-12 education in their area was increased funding to schools. The vast majority of respondents also believe that pre-K educational programs as well as post-high school institutions are very important to the local community.

“The survey provides a mixed picture of how Sangamon County residents assess the local area. What is clear is that Sangamon County residents are committed to improving educational and economic opportunities for all members of the community,” said Ashley Kirzinger, director of the UIS Survey Research Office.

In addition, residents are also aware of how important the local agricultural industry as well as growing downtown Springfield are to the economy of the region.

While the majority of residents are positive about the general direction of the area, there are some troubling findings. According to the report, one-in-five Sangamon County residents report not being able to afford food or healthcare for themselves or their family members at least one time in the past year. In addition, 21.2% of employed respondents reported that they consider themselves to be currently underemployed. In fact, the majority of respondents believe that current financial conditions (both personal and local area businesses) have not improved or declined in the past year.

“The survey provides important data regarding the education, health and incomes of those living in Sangamon County,” said John Kelker, president of United Way of Central Illinois. “As the largest private funder of health & human service programs in the county, this data will allow our volunteers to better assess and address community needs.”

The Citizens Club of Springfield and the Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission assisted in preparing the final report. For more information on the survey, contact the UIS Survey Research Office at 217/206-6591. The full report can be found online at http://cspl.uis.edu/surveyresearchoffice/.

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