Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Residents Ease Up on Economy

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Residents Ease Up on Economy

Article excerpt

ANGST: Sarasota County survey finds more citizens concerned about growth

SARASOTA COUNTY

Angst over the economy is declining, with fewer residents citing it as their biggest concern for the first time since the Great Recession began, according to the county's annual citizen's survey.

Perhaps reflecting the slowly recovering economy, though, concerns about growth and traffic rose significantly and are now the second and third biggest worries for residents.

Other measures of community angst -- worries about taxes, declining property values and schools -- are all also on the decline.

Still, the percentage of residents polled who cited the economy as their biggest concern continues to be high at 36 percent. That figure was 39 percent in 2011 and 36 percent in 2010. And 70 percent of residents still say their finances are a problem.

"It's sort of consistent with where the recovery is," said Sean Snaith, a University of Central Florida economist. "Generally the improvement in the overall economic environment, while not anything overwhelming, has been steady."

The citizen's survey, conducted for the county every year since 1992, was done by political science professor Susan MacManus through the Florida Institute of Government at the University of South Florida. Pollsters surveyed 801 county residents in late May and June. The responses have a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Those citing job loss as the biggest threat to the local economy dropped from 52 percent last year to 42 percent this year. The survey also added a new question, whether residents think the economy is on the road to recovery, and 56 percent responded affirmatively.

Those living in southern Sarasota County were significantly more worried about the economy than those living in the northern portion.

During the building boom years, new development and population growth, affordable housing, traffic and taxes were all major worries for residents, though those numbers have steadily declined with the recession. …

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