Key Quality of Life Findings from the 2018 Summit Poll

When asked what the most important problem facing Summit County right now was, for the second straight year, substance abuse and heroin were cited most frequently, given by 32% of respondents, a slight increase from 29% the previous year and a sharp increase from 12% in 2016.

Following substance abuse/heroin epidemic was government and infrastructure issues such as road conditions, water and sewer system issues, and poor or ineffective government, 21%. Significantly fewer, 14%, identified crime and safety concerns such as violence and poor police relations. Even fewer, 10%, named employment concerns such as job loss, high unemployment, and not enough good paying jobs. An additional 10% identified economic issues such as taxes and the struggling economy as the most important problem. Other responses include, in order of importance: education concerns such as school funding, 4%; housing concerns such as the poor housing market and foreclosures, 4% and healthcare issues, 1%.

There have been significant shifts in resident perception of the most important problem facing Summit County over the last five years. For the second time in twelve years, substance abuse/heroin epidemic was the most important problem facing the county, a considerable increase from 2016 when 12% named substance abuse as the number one problem. Prior to 2016, substance abuse was not even in the top three most important problems.

The percentage of respondents who have named government and infrastructure as the most important issue remained relatively consistent over the first seven years of data collection, fluctuating between 10% and 13% before increasing to 21% in 2014 and 37% in 2015 and then decreasing back to 23% in 2016 and then to 22% in 2017 and 21% in 2018.

Once the most frequently named problem facing the county, for the fourth consecutive year, employment concerns were NOT the most important problem facing the county. In fact, in 2018, employment concerns ranked as the fourth most important problem in the county. The percentage that identified employment concerns as the most important problem has greatly decreased over the past eight years. Between 2007 and 2010, there was a 23% increase in the percentage of respondents that cited employment concerns (26% to 49%) with 2011 being the first year in which there was a decrease from 49% in 2010 to 42% in 2011. This proportion remained relatively flat in 2012. The largest decrease was between 2014 and 2015, a 13% decrease from 30% to 17%. In 2016, it increased for the first time in six years from 17% to 21% followed by decreases to 15% in 2017 and 2018, which was the lowest percentage of respondents naming employment concerns as the most important problem in the twelve years that data has been collected.