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Jefferson Community College Website

18th Annual Jefferson County Survey Findings Released

The Center for Community Studies (CCS) at Jefferson Community College (JCC) released the findings of the 18th Annual Jefferson County Survey of the Community at the General Services Committee meeting of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

The annual survey is an inventory of the attitudes, opinions, and behaviors of a representative sample of Jefferson County adult residents, with the interviews completed every year in the month of April. The primary goal of the survey is to collect data regarding quality of life issues of importance to local citizens, and as a result this study provides an annual “snapshot” of life in the county.  Additionally, the analysis of the 18th Annual Survey data provides an information-rich “motion-picture” of changes in the lives of county residents over the past two decades when trends are investigated through comparing with earlier-year results.

Working under the training and supervision of the Center for Community Studies research staff, Jefferson students utilized a hybrid sampling design with 345 telephone interviews completed on the evenings of April 10-11, 2017, and an additional 96 intercept surveys completed at Fort Drum on April 19, 2017. 

Highlights of the 2017 survey include:

  • In 2017, many local community quality-of-life indicators that are related to personal and local economics resulted with the most positive results ever measured in 18 years of surveying in the county.  Although there remains much room for improvement, residents feel better than ever (at least since year 2000) regarding – the cost of energy, real estate taxes, the overall state of the local economy, and the availability of good jobs). As one example, in 2001 among local residents 66% rated the availability of good jobs locally as “Poor”, while in 2017 this rate is only 32%.
  • Continuing the theme illustrated above, when local residents are asked the largest issue facing the entire nation, in 2017 responses have dramatically changed from that which were recorded 5-10 years ago among county residents. There has been a shift from economic concern to a concern in government/leadership and the current nationwide drug epidemic.  For example, in 2009 among local residents 81% cited the jobs and the economy as the largest issue facing the nation, while in 2017 this rate is only 15%.  In 2009, no participants cited either government/leadership or drugs at the largest issue, and in 2017 these rates have increased to 26% and 18%, respectively.
  • Currently 81% of residents indicate that their personal financial situation has remained at least the same or improved in the past year (25% improved, 56% remained same; both of these rates are unchanged since 2016).  The percentage of participants who indicate that their personal financial situation has gotten worse in 2017 is the lowest ever found in ten years of study (14% in 2017, was 18% in 2016).  A strong correlation is present between one’s current household income and their assessment of their personal financial situation over the past 12 months – over 35% of those who are in households who earn $75,000 or more annually indicate that their personal financial situation has improved over the past year, while this rate is only 20% among those households whose annual income is $25,000 or less.  It is impossible in this study to determine which, if either, of these two variables might be the causal variable and which might be the response, however, this is a correlation in the collected data that has been present in this study for many years, and is difficult to ignore.
  • Overwhelmingly the results show that in 2017 Jefferson County residents perceive the continuing presence of Fort Drum as having several positive impacts upon local residents. Of particular note is that almost nine-in-ten residents agree that “local community leadership should continue to be actively involved in efforts that ensure the long term viability of Fort Drum.”
  • Jefferson County residents very commonly report to use the Internet to get their local and national news, seek information about local events, and make online purchases (all four have been used by over 70% of residents in past 30 days).  Interestingly, among the five technology uses studied, in recent years there have been significant increases in using the Internet to accomplish some goals, while rates of using the Internet for other purposes have not changed significantly over that time frame. For example, use of the Internet by Jefferson County residents to seek information about local events and to make online purchases have both increased to all-time high levels however, rates of using the Internet to get local and national news, and to find medical or health information are unchanged in 2017 from rates that have been found in the county in other recent years of study.

The entire final report for this study is available online, and includes:

  • a summary of the 2017 Jefferson County results with a copy of the complete survey instrument used this year
  • a trend analysis of the Jefferson County results from 2000-2017
  • a full analysis of potential relationships between key demographic characteristics of participants and their opinions and behaviors
  • comparisons to results of similar recent annual surveys completed by the Center in each of Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties

The Development Authority of the North Country and the Northern New York Community Foundation partner with Jefferson Community College in providing financial sponsorship of all three annual surveys completed by the Center for Community Studies in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties.

For more information, please contact Research Director Joel F. LaLone, Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College, at 315-786-2264.