Ask Alabama poll surveys opinions on state’s image

AUBURN – State of Alabama economic development representatives frequently say the friendliness of Alabama’s people is their secret weapon in recruiting international businesses looking to invest in new North American operations. The results of a recent statewide poll suggest that multinational industrialists are not the only ones to have noticed.

Almost all Alabama residents, 96 percent of them, agree that it is accurate to describe the state as “friendly.” Seventy-three percent say that is a “very” accurate label for the state; another 23 percent say it is “somewhat” accurate.

“The people of Alabama are now being recognized around the globe for being hospitable and welcoming,” said Don-Terry Veal, director of the Center for Governmental Services that conducted the quarterly Ask Alabama poll. “This friendliness makes the state a great place to live and a profitable site for investments in human resources. Companies are looking for happy and cooperative employees.”

Other images of the state that Alabama’s residents agree on are that it’s a “good place to raise a family,” with 91 percent agreeing; and a “good place to buy a home,” with 90 percent agreeing. There is also considerable consensus that Alabama is a “good place to retire,” with 86 percent agreeing; has good race relations, with 82 percent agreeing; and is a good place to get an education, with 80 percent agreeing.

Older residents of Alabama, those of retirement age (63 and older), feel more strongly than others that the state is ideal for retirement. Almost seven of every 10 seniors (69 percent) told Auburn pollsters that it is “very accurate” to describe Alabama as a good place to retire. Another 26 percent of seniors said that image is “somewhat accurate.”

The image of improved race relations has touched both blacks and whites who live in the state. Seventy-eight percent of African-Americans and 83 percent of whites share the belief that it is accurate to say that Alabama has good race relations. White citizens are more intense in this opinion, with 38 percent saying that it is “very accurate” compared to 31 percent of black citizens who have the same opinion.

In the current economic downturn, Alabama residents seem less sure about Alabama’s economic situation. Only 63 percent feel that Alabama is a “good place to start and build a new business” and just 43 percent conclude that it is a “good place to find a job.”

“Analyzing these data, it is difficult to say whether these less enthusiastic images reflect narrowly on Alabama’s entrepreneurial and employment situation or are simply a global reaction to the overall macroeconomic circumstance,” says David Hill, associate director of the Center for Governmental Services. “Our sense of the data overall is that people are expressing frustration with the economy nationally and globally more than they are critiquing Alabama.”

The Ask Alabama survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted July 6-19 with a stratified random sample of 639 adult householders. The sample’s geographic, gender, race and age distributions were weighted to be proportionate to the U.S. Census Bureau’s data for Alabama’s adult (18 years of age or older) householders.

Patrick Rose, manager of the center’s Survey Research Laboratory that conducted the interviews, said that poll results based on the full statewide sample have a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

The Ask Alabama Poll is conducted quarterly by the Center for Governmental Services, a unit of Auburn University Outreach that provides research, consulting and training to government agencies, not-for-profit associations and private sector clients.

For more information on the Center for Governmental Services and for additional information about the polling process, including graphic representations, go to http://www.askalabama.org.

Contact: Don-Terry Veal, (334) 844-4781 (vealdon@auburn.edu), or
David Hill, (334) 844-4867 (david.hill@auburn.edu)