WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — A new survey has detailed problems impacting North Country adults.
The 23rd Annual North Country Survey of the Community, led by the Center for Community Studies at Jefferson County was released on January 26.
This survey is an annual inventory of the attitudes and opinions of North Country adult residents. According to researchers, the primary goal is to collect data regarding the quality-of-life issues and provide a “snapshot” of life in the region.
Major findings included negative responses in personal finance situations, the direction the North Country is heading, the quality of K-12 education and the availability of housing.
These findings matched trends pollsters saw nationwide, Center for Community Studies Director Joel LaLone said.
“People express, outwardly, that they’re happy with the peace, safety, the environment in Northern New York. It’s just, there’s been a slight diminishing of that enthusiastic happiness,” LaLone shared.
When asked the open question, “What do you think is the single largest issue that is facing residents of the North Country right now?”, the survey found that the majority of respondents believe the biggest problem facing people of the North Country was inflation.
“This is the first time inflation rose to the top of the list,” Center of Community Studies Research Director Larry Danforth said. “We’ve seen many other items, we’ve seen economy in general, but we’ve never seen where people are identifying inflation to be the issue.”
This was a striking finding for researchers, but LaLone said it was no surprise considering the economy.
“Gas prices, the stock market not having a good fall, folks feeling the pocketbook pressures, whether it’s housing or going to the grocery store. There were a collection of factors,” he explained.
However, this affected many other quality-of-life areas on the survey.
“If you can’t afford the cost of living, then it’s difficult to be positive on all those other community measures,” LaLone added. “I know it’s not just true here, in the North Country. I believe it’s a truism in looking at sociological studies across the board.”
But it wasn’t all negative. The survey found the likelihood to rate access to higher education remained stable over time, the availability of jobs increased and high ratings for the quality of the environment and public recreational opportunities.
And overall, the majority of adult respondents said the overall quality of life in the area was “excellent or good.”
Moving forward, researchers say, this data is now in the hands of local leaders and officials.
“What I would hope is people look at what the attitudes and opinions of adults in the region to make the next group of county-wide, region-wide decisions,” Danforth concluded.
The 23rd Annual North Country Survey of the Community has been conducted each year in Jefferson County since 2000. It was expanded to include Lewis County in 2007 and then St. Lawrence County in 2015.
Read the full results from the survey on Jefferson Community College’s website.