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USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey Reveals Most Important Issues Facing Florida, Financial Stress in Households, Threat to State's Economy, Environmental Problems and State's Performance Addressing Sinkholes

University of South Florida Professor Susan MacManus shares survey findings about Florida's economic threats and environmental issues

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 6, 2016) Nearly two-thirds of Floridians are feeling financial stress in their own household, according to the 2016 USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey. Distinguished University Professor Susan MacManus at the University of South Florida College of Arts and Sciences released today findings on what Floridians see as the biggest economic and environmental issues facing the state. The survey also reveals that Floridians think the economy/jobs is the most important issue facing the state. The next data release is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 10 focusing on immigration, crime and personal safety with more hot topic issues released during the next three weeks.

"The notion that the economy has not fully recovered is evident with the economy/jobs cited as the most important issue facing Florida and the lack of well-paying jobs as the greatest threat to the state's economy," MacManus said. "Florida's economy has long been closely linked to its environmental assets. Water-related concerns top the list of what residents see as the state's biggest environmental problem. Sinkholes are another problem that need to be better addressed by state officials."

Key issues revealed about the economy and environment include:

  • Most Important Issue Facing Florida – The economy/jobs (24 percent) was cited as the most important issue facing Florida. Other issues included environment (13 percent), crime/policing (11 percent), education and schools (9 percent), government officials (5 percent), healthcare (5 percent), and immigration (5 percent).

Infographic: Most important issues facing State of Florida

  • Financial Stress in Households Today – Nearly two-thirds of Floridians are feeling financial stress in their own household. Financial stress is greatest among households with a child, low-income earners and those without a college degree.

Infographic: Financial stress in households today

  • Threats to Florida's Economy – Top three threats included lack of well-paying jobs (28 percent), government waste, taxes and regulations (24 percent), and illegal immigration (18 percent). Floridians ages 18 to 34 see an inadequate education system as the biggest threat to the economy.

Infographic: Single biggest threat to Florida's economy

  • Biggest Environmental Problems Facing Florida – Water related problems (34 percent), loss of natural lands for wildlife (20 percent), and climate change/global warming (18 percent) are the most cited threats to Florida's environment. Citation rates of both climate change and loss of natural lands for wildlife went up the most since last year's survey.

Infographic: Single biggest environmental problem facing Florida today

  • State Performance Addressing Sinkholes – Most Floridians rate the state's performance as fair (30 percent) or poor (21 percent) while one-third gave an excellent/good mark. Residents are most critical in Tampa and Miami areas.

Infographic: State performance addressing the problem of sinkholes

The full data release with all of the survey questions about the economy and environment is posted on the USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey website including a Quick Facts summary andInfographics in jpg format for download. Analysis and Crosstabs for all questions with detailed data is also available with the key issues first, followed by all other questions. Additional data include questions about payments on student loans, increasing the minimum wage, taxing internet purchases, creating jobs, off-shore drilling, alternative energy technology, and state and local government taxing and spending.

Results of this survey are based on 1,248 telephone interviews conducted by The Nielsen Company Sept. 1-19, 2016 with a random sample of adults, aged 18 and older, residing in Florida households. For a random sample of 1,248 adults, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ± 2.77 percentage points. Refer to the USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey website for complete methodology.

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Floridians identify economy/jobs (24%) as most important issue facing state @SunStateSurvey

Two-thirds of Florida households are feeling financial stress @SunStateSurvey.

28% say lack of well-paying jobs biggest threat to Florida economy @SunStateSurvey

Water-related concerns top list of Florida's biggest environmental problems @SunStateSurvey @USFCollege

Half of Floridians give the state fair or poor marks for handling sinkhole problem #sunshinestatesurvey

The USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey is the most anticipated annual survey of Floridians on a wide range of issues affecting the state of Florida and serves as our state leaders' report card. Conducted by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida and Nielsen, this survey has become a critical source of citizen opinions on key issues facing this rapidly changing state--the nation's third largest. The series of questions asked annually since 2006 provides leaders and academics in the public, private and nonprofit sectors with much needed trend line data, while questions on newly emerging issues give leaders an invaluable baseline look at where a wide cross section of our state's residents stand on them.


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