Jefferson County Residents Say Economy's Better, Survey Shows

Jefferson County Residents Say Economy's Better, Survey Shows

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The way people look at Jefferson County's economy is steadily improving. 

Jefferson Community College's Center for Community Studies recently surveyed 575 people. It's a yearly practice, and it looks as if there are a number of positives this year.

Researchers unveiled the 19th annual survey to Jefferson County lawmakers Tuesday night.

When it comes to good jobs, researchers say the scales are close to balanced.

"This year it was 28 percent that rate the availability of good jobs as as 'excellent' or 'good' and 29 percent as 'poor,'" research coordinator Larry Danforth said, "so there's still a more negative perception than positive, but this the closest those two metrics have been."

"We also asked their assessment of the overall state of the local economy and that was the best they've ever evaluated in 19 years," research director Joel LaLone said.

One trend that has been growing in the last few years is the favorable perception of healthcare access and quality.

This year's survey found that the percentage of people who rated health care as "excellent" or "good" is the highest it's been in two decades.

"It's basically a six-to-one ratio that for every one person that rates healthcare access and quality as 'poor,' there's six people that are going to rate it as 'excellent' or 'good,'" Danforth said.

"It shows the model at Fort Drum that's currently being used in this community, having off-post healthcare, not only is good for the soldiers and their families, but it's also good for the residents of this community," said Scott Gray, who chairs the county Legislature.

The survey also shows areas that need more work. More people this year say they've been personally impacted by poverty, and alcohol and drug abuse.

County residents continue to view the region's overall quality of life as positive, but it has increased significantly over the last three years.

Fifty-three percent rated life quality as "excellent" or "good" in 2014. That rose to 66 percent in the most recent survey.

Residents have traditionally given good marks to access to higher education, with 58 to 68 percent saying it's "excellent" or "good" from 2000 to 2014. That's risen to 74 percent this year.

Attitudes have changed over past years about issues facing the country as a whole. In 2009, 81 percent of local residents were mostly concerned about the nation's economy. That has fallen to 10 percent today.

Now, the biggest issues are the drug epidemic and government leadership. 

County lawmakers say they'll take all of these statistics into account and consider what they can do to help improve the quality of life in Jefferson County.

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