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New Marquette Law School Poll finds opportunities, limits to public support for cooperation in the Chicago “megacity”

Study of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin residents explores attitudes on workforce training, funding for transportation and tourism, and neighborhood and police matters

By - Jul 28th, 2015 09:36 am
Chicago

Chicago

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll of the Chicago megacity region, from southeast Wisconsin through the Chicago area and into northwest Indiana, finds a majority of residents saying that political leaders in all three states should work together to promote economic development throughout the region instead of competing with each other.

Seventy percent of northeast Illinois residents, 72 percent of northwest Indiana residents and 61 percent of southeast Wisconsin residents said that leaders should work together. Twenty-eight percent in Illinois, 26 percent in Indiana and 35 percent in Wisconsin said that political leaders should look out for their own state first.

This general support for cooperation extends to coordination on transportation projects and professional licensing, but not to tourism or efforts to attract large businesses to the region.

Nearly 60 percent in each state supported putting money in a common fund for coordinating planning for airports, railroads, highways and Lake Michigan shipping, with 63 percent in Illinois, 60 percent in Indiana and 58 percent in Wisconsin agreeing. Fewer than 40 percent in each state said that the states should go their own way on transportation planning.

Majorities in each state thought it would be better to have a single license in various trades and professions across the region than to require people to be licensed in each state with different state standards. Sixty-four percent in Illinois, 62 percent in Indiana and 54 percent in Wisconsin would support a single license, while 34 percent in Illinois, 36 percent in Indiana and 44 percent in Wisconsin thought that each state should set its own licensing requirements.

That support for regional efforts disappeared, however, on the subject of attracting large companies or tourism. A majority in each state said that states should go their own way in trying to attract large companies, with 51 percent in Illinois, 53 percent in Indiana and 60 percent in Wisconsin agreeing. Forty-three percent in Illinois, 41 percent in Indiana and 35 percent in Wisconsin would support a common fund for business recruitment. For tourism, even more respondents said that the states should go their own way, with 59 percent of Illinois, 58 percent of Indiana and 65 percent of Wisconsin supporting independent efforts by the states. Only 36 percent of Illinois, 38 percent of Indiana and 33 percent of Wisconsin would support a common fund for tourism promotion.

Respondents also said that they would be willing to move across state lines, if their jobs were nearby, in order to have lower property and income taxes. Sixty-five percent in Illinois, 67 percent in Indiana and 62 percent in Wisconsin said they would move to a lower-tax state if their job were near the border. In Illinois 28 percent said they would not move, as did 29 percent in Indiana and 31 percent in Wisconsin.

Respondents were asked whether they would strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement: “The most important thing to me is how well things are going where I live and I really don’t care what’s happening elsewhere in the region.” More than 60 percent of respondents in each state disagree with the statement that the most important thing is how well things are going where they live. By a two-to-one margin, they say they care about the wider region.

“These results show that there is public support for political leaders to pursue policies of cooperation in areas where shared benefits are high, such as transportation or professional licensing,” said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll. “On other issues where direct and competing economic interests are at stake, such as tourism or attracting business, politicians are likely to find public disapproval of cooperative efforts. And while Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin residents certainly have their own distinct identities, we found perhaps surprisingly uniform opinions across the three states when it comes to cooperation.”

The Marquette Law School Poll of the Chicago megacity surveyed 1,872 respondents from the tri-state region. In southeast Wisconsin the poll included 660 respondents from Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha counties. In Illinois, 600 respondents were interviewed from Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. The 612 respondents from Indiana were from Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton and Porter counties. These 21 counties form the Chicago economic region studied by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in its 2012 report on economic conditions and prospects for the region. The margin of error for the Illinois sample is +/- 5.8 percentage points, +/- 5.2 percentage points for Indiana and +/-5.1 percentage points for Wisconsin.

Workforce preparation

A strong majority of respondents said that the training and work ethic of the labor force had a great deal or a good bit to do with determining economic growth, with 71 percent in Illinois, 74 percent in Indiana and 77 percent in Wisconsin choosing these options. Twenty-seven percent in Illinois, 22 percent in Indiana and 21 percent in Wisconsin said the workforce had only a little or nothing at all to do with economic growth.

When it came to their own careers, however, a majority in the region said that they had looked for whatever job was available rather than entering the workforce with a clear plan. In Illinois, 49 percent looked for what was available, as did 62 percent in Indiana and 52 percent in Wisconsin. Forty-nine percent of Illinois respondents said that they started their careers with a clear plan along with 37 percent in Indiana and 47 percent in Wisconsin.

Views of how much education is needed these days for a good-paying job reflected the expectation that more was needed. Twenty-one percent in Illinois said a high school diploma was enough, as did 19 percent in Indiana and 21 percent in Wisconsin. There was a wider belief that technical school training after high school could provide the foundation for a successful career, with 21 percent in Illinois, 27 percent in Indiana and 36 percent in Wisconsin agreeing. More in Illinois, 38 percent, believed that a college degree or higher was required than in Indiana, 29 percent, or Wisconsin, 21 percent.

About a third of respondents in the region said that they had acquired some form of technical training following high school, with 34 percent in Illinois, 33 percent in Indiana and 37 percent in Wisconsin so reporting. Unions provided that training to 18 percent in Illinois, 16 percent in Indiana and 13 percent in Wisconsin. A technical school was the source of training for 24 percent in Illinois, 22 percent in Indiana and 31 percent in Wisconsin. These groups overlap because some respondents had both union and technical school training.

More than half of respondents in the region said that their employer provided training opportunities within the company. Fifty-five percent of Illinois respondents, 49 percent in Indiana and 57 percent in Wisconsin said their employer provided some form of training.

While about one in 10 respondents said that finding work had been extremely hard, more than half said it had been somewhat or extremely easy. In Illinois, 10 percent said work had been extremely hard to find, with another 31 percent saying it was somewhat hard. In Indiana 12 percent said extremely hard and 27 percent somewhat hard, while in Wisconsin eight percent said extremely and 27 percent somewhat hard.

Substantial majorities said that they have been satisfied or very satisfied with their work life, with 84 percent in Illinois, 78 percent in Indiana and 85 percent in Wisconsin expressing satisfaction. Fifteen percent in Illinois, 19 percent in Indiana and 14 percent in Wisconsin said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

Only about a third said it is better to change jobs often when better opportunities are available, while nearly two-thirds said it is better to stay in a stable and reliable job for a long time. Thirty-three percent in Illinois, 31 percent in Indiana and 28 percent in Wisconsin would pursue better opportunities, while 63 percent in Illinois, 66 percent in Indiana and 67 percent in Wisconsin prefer the security of a stable situation.

Around 30 percent said that they had, at some time, started or owned a business or been self-employed, with 33 percent in Illinois, 29 percent in Indiana and 26 percent in Wisconsin following this form of entrepreneurial career. Similar numbers said that if they were in their 20s or early 30s, they would be very willing to take a low-paying job with a start up company, with the chance of a large profit if the company were successful. Specifically, 34 percent in Illinois, 33 percent in Indiana and 30 percent in Wisconsin would be very willing to join a start up.

The public is somewhat evenly divided on the question of whether success is simply a matter of hard work and ability or if it is difficult to succeed if you are not born into the upper class. In Illinois 47 percent said that success is a matter of hard work and ability, as did 51 percent in Indiana and 50 percent in Wisconsin, but 49 percent in Illinois, 47 percent in Indiana and 44 percent in Wisconsin said success is difficult without the advantage of an upper-class start.

Transportation and commuting

Residents of Illinois have considerably longer commutes, with 31 percent saying that they spend 40 minutes or more each way traveling to work. In Indiana 20 percent spend that long and in Wisconsin 16 percent do. At the short end of travel times, 22 percent in Illinois, 34 percent in Indiana and 37 percent in Wisconsin said they have less than a 20-minute commute.

Despite the differences in travel time, more than 70 percent in each state described their commute as pretty easy, while five percent or less described it as “a nightmare.”

Cars remain the most frequent mode of travel to work, with 75 percent in Illinois, 90 percent in Indiana and 88 percent in Wisconsin getting to work this way. In Illinois 11 percent use commuter rail and 9 percent ride a bus. In Indiana 3 percent use rail and 2 percent bus, while no respondents in Wisconsin said they use rail and 5 percent use buses.

While cars remain the dominant transit mode, either 31 or 32 percent in each state said that improving commuter rail and Amtrak service was more important than improving highways, while 63 percent in each state said that highway improvements were more important.

Home and community issues

More than 90 percent in each state said they liked their neighborhood or liked it a lot, although seven to nine percent said they disliked it or disliked it a lot. Similarly, most respondents said they thought their neighborhood was either completely or pretty safe, while 14 to 19 percent said they were afraid to walk alone at night or never did.

Policing practices have become the subject of widespread discussion in the wake of high incarceration rates of African-American and other minority populations and recent highly visible deaths of African-Americans in confrontations with police around the country.

In Illinois 41 percent said the police arrest too many people for minor offenses, with 39 percent in Indiana and 35 percent in Wisconsin agreeing. Forty-seven percent in Illinois, 52 percent in Indiana and 54 percent in Wisconsin said there were not too many such arrests.

Forty-two percent in Illinois, 37 percent in Indiana and 42 percent in Wisconsin said the police are too willing to use deadly force, while 49 percent in Illinois, 56 percent in Indiana and 50 percent in Wisconsin disagreed.

These splits mask large differences by race. Among African-Americans in Illinois, 68 percent said deadly force was used too much, as did 51 percent of Hispanics and 33 percent of whites. In Indiana 65 percent of African-Americans, 34 percent of Hispanics and 32 percent of whites held that view. In Wisconsin 76 percent of African-Americans, 46 percent of Hispanics and 36 percent of whites said the police were too willing to use deadly force.

Divisions over arrests follow a similar pattern. In Illinois, 61 percent of African-Americans, 52 percent of Hispanics and 35 percent of whites thought that there were too many arrests for minor offenses. In Indiana 62 percent of African-Americans, 39 percent of Hispanics and 35 percent of whites agreed, while in Wisconsin it was 56 percent among African-Americans, 39 percent among Hispanics and 31 percent among whites.

About the Marquette Law School Poll.

The Marquette Law School poll of the Chicago megacity surveyed 1,872 respondents from the tri-state region. In southeast Wisconsin the poll included 660 respondents from Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha counties. In Illinois 600 respondents were interviewed from Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. The 612 respondents from Indiana were from Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton and Porter counties.  These 21 counties make up the Chicago economic region studied by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in its 2012 report on economic conditions and prospects for the region. The margin of error for the Illinois sample is +/- 5.8 percentage points, +/- 5.2 percentage points for Indiana and +/-5.1 percentage points for Wisconsin. The entire questionnaire, full results, and breakdowns by demographic groups are available at http://law.marquette.edu/poll.

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