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Jefferson County Annual Survey Findings Released by CCS

The Center for Community Studies (CCS) at Jefferson Community College released the findings of the 16th Annual Jefferson County Survey of the Community at the Planning & Development Committee meeting of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.

The survey is an inventory of the attitudes and opinions of a representative sample of Jefferson County residents. The primary goal of the survey is to collect data regarding quality of life issues of importance to local citizens.

Working under the supervision of the Center for Community Studies research staff, statistics students at the College completed 400 telephone interviews on the evenings of April 6-16, 2015.

Highlights of the 2015 survey include:

  • Jefferson County residents were significantly more satisfied with the availability of good jobs and with the overall state of the local economy.  Residents rating availability of good jobs as excellent or good increased from 13% in 2014 to 18% in 2015, the highest such rating since the spring of 2008, before the recession.
  • An all-time low, 21% of respondents, rated the overall state of the local economy as poor in 2015, and nearly one in three residents (32%) rated it as excellent or good, an all-time high.
  • In 2015, only 24% of residents rated “The Economy and Jobs” as the largest issue facing our nation right now, down from a peak of 81% rating this as the largest issue in 2009.
  • The percentage of Jefferson County residents perceiving the quality of K-12 education as excellent or good was at the lowest rate ever measured in the 16 years of study (49%).
  • By a five-to-one margin (71% to 14%), Jefferson County residents indicated that they had more trust in the teachers’ unions than in Gov. Andrew Cuomo to improve K-12 education in New York State
  • The 2015 rate of 13% of poor for availability of housing in the county was the lowest ever measured, and less than one-third of the rates found in 2005 and 2006.
  • Nearly two out of every three residents (64%) indicated that that the presence of Fort Drum in the local area has a positive effect upon their families’ employment or financial situation, significantly higher than the 51% found in 2014.
  • County residents overwhelmingly agree that the presence of Fort Drum in the area improves the quality of life for local residents, with 83% agreeing or strongly agreeing with this statement, and 9% agreeing or strongly disagreeing (over a nine-to-one margin).
  • Respondents with active military personnel in the household were especially positive about recreational opportunities (74% rated this as excellent or good, compared to 67% of those with no Fort Drum connection). 
  • Similarly, with opportunities for youth, respondents from households with active military personnel were nearly twice as positive (72% rating these as excellent or good, compared to 37% of those with no Fort Drum connection).
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s job-performance rating was the worst since its peak in 2012, when 50% of residents indicated that his job performance was excellent or good.  In 2015, that rating was cut in half, to 25%, while those indicating his job performance was poor in 2012 (10%) increased nearly four times, to 39% in 2015.
  • Residents rated the downtown of Watertown the most positively ever measured, with 40% indicating it was excellent or good (twice the lowest ever measured, 23%, in 2004), while those rating it as poor was the lowest ever recorded, at 18% (down from 39% in 2004).  This positive perception was first found in the 2009 annual survey, when the “excellent or good” rating went up from 28% to 43%, and appears to be regaining momentum in 2015.
  • While in 2014 nearly two of every three residents (64%) expected the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) to affect their families’ healthcare more negatively, in 2015, only 19% actually reported a more negative effect.  Three out of five respondents (61%) indicated neither a positive nor a negative impact, and 13% reported a more positive effect.

The entire survey, including a summary of the results and the complete survey instrument, is available on the Center for Community Studies section of the Jefferson Community College website, www.sunyjefferson.edu/ccs.

For more information, please contact Dr. Raymond Petersen, Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College, 315-786-2223/2488.