Public Policy Forum Blog

The People Speak: Greater Milwaukee citizens' views on the economy

The Public Policy Forum is pleased to launch a new research product today in partnership with UWM's Center for Urban Initiatives and Research (CUIR) and The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee: results from our new The People Speak poll.

The People Speak is a tracking poll that will be conducted at regular intervals throughout the year. Its purpose it to gather information from local citizens about their interests in, preferences for, and concerns about public policy. By gathering and reporting out these citizen perspectives, the partners hope to expand the public voice in policy matters affecting Greater Milwaukee.

Each poll will have a set of standard questions on topical public policy issues, the responses to which we can track over the long term. Because some of those questions are identical to those used by the Forum in previous public opinion surveys of southeastern Wisconsin residents, we'll also be able to compare the results to those we obtained several years ago.

In addition, each poll will have a set of questions that centers on a specific public policy theme. The poll results released today (from polling conducted during the last week of September) center on the economy: both how the economic downturn is impacting Greater Milwaukee residents, and how residents view governmental efforts to get the economy back on track.

Accompanying each set of poll results will be a Research Brief that analyzes key results. The Research Brief released today can be accessed here at the new The People Speak web site. The following are some highlights:

  • About a third of respondents say they have experienced problems saving or paying for retirement, paying bills, and paying for health care during the past six months. Nevertheless, 64% are optimistic about their financial futures.
  • Milwaukee area residents are more supportive of state and local tactics to revive the economy than federal efforts. For example, solid majorities believe that state and local governments should be doing and spending more to promote development and attract new businesses, yet only 45% believe the federal stimulus legislation was a wise use of public funds and 35% believe another stimulus package is warranted.
  • While "jobs" ranked only as high as fourth or fifth in citizens' rankings of most important issues facing the four-county Milwaukee region in polls conducted from 1999-2002, it ranked first in the 2009 poll. The issues of crime/violence, schools/education and transportation ranked lower than ever before.

Stay tuned for release next month of results and analysis of the general public policy questions from our September survey.

Rob Henken