By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new poll released this morning says Philadelphians give relatively high marks to Mayor Michael Nutter overall, but his approval rating on fighting crime is heading downward.
The poll by the research arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts is the fourth annual survey of city residents’ outlook on the present and future state of the city.
Mayor Nutter scored his best approval ratings since 2009. But when the 1,600 residents surveyed were questioned about specific issues, Nutter’s success in stemming crime got lower marks.
“There is tremendous concern in the city about violent crime,” notes poll director Larry Eichel. “And when you look at the next four years, and we asked people what is their top priority for the next four years, reducing violent crime comes in first.”
Crime is rated as a “serious” or “very serious” issue by nearly 75 percent of the Philadelphians surveyed, a ten percent jump over last year’s survey.
Nutter does get higher marks, however, for making Philadelphia less corrupt and more environmentally friendly.
Mayor Nutter says he’s not surprised that the poll results showed growing concern about violent crime in Philadelphia. He points out that the survey was conducted in January amid some particularly noteworthy incidents, including the beating death of a Temple University graduate in Old City (see related story).
“Of course people are concerned,” said the mayor, adding, “I’m concerned.”
Joblessness also strikes very close to home in Philadelphia. In this latest telephone survey, more than half the respondents indicated they had someone at home who was out of work.
“Fifty-three percent said yes, someone in my household or myself has been unemployed or looking for work in the past 12 months,” says Eichel.
A similar number said yes last year, but Eichel says it’s a striking number nevertheless:
“It tells you that unemployment is touching the lives of an awful lot of people in the city.”
The Pew survey also included several questions on the hot-button issue of immigration.
Among those responding, 51 percent said immigrants strengthen the city, while only 34 percent said they were a burden.
Eichel, the poll director, says this shows far more receptiveness to immigrants than a similar question in a recent nationwide Pew survey.
“Philadelphia turns out to be more welcoming to immigrants than the country as a whole,” Eichel tells KYW Newsradio. “When the country as a whole was asked that question, they were split pretty much down the middle between saying whether immigrants strengthen the nation or are a burden to it. Philadelphians say no, immigrants strengthen the city.”