Center for Community Studies Releases Jefferson County Survey Results
The Center for Community Studies (CCS) at Jefferson Community College (JCC) released the findings of the 13th Annual Jefferson County Survey of the Community at the Center’s Annual Meeting held June 21st at JCC.
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 380 telephone interviews on the evenings of April 4-13, 2012.
Highlights of this year’s survey include:
- Jefferson County residents are very satisfied with the overall quality of life in the area, with 84% of respondents rating it as either "getting better" or "staying the same".
- Residents reported most frequently that the following aspects of our community are "getting better": shopping opportunities, the Downtown of Watertown, and access to higher education.
- Residents indicated most frequently that the following aspects of our community were "getting worse": the cost of energy, the availability of good jobs, real estate taxes, and the overall state of the local economy.
- The results on the economy and jobs suggest an improvement in perceptions of the direction of the local economy. There was a significant decrease in respondents rating “Overall State of the Local Economy” as "getting worse", down from 56% in 2011 to 42% in 2012, and still well below the peak year for this rating in 2009 (72%). While over half of respondents (52%) indicated that the "Availability of Good Jobs" was "getting worse", this was down from 65% in 2011. Also, the 13% who rated this situation as "getting better" gave this question the most positive numbers since the 2008 recession.
- The percentage of Jefferson County residents perceiving the quality of K-12 education as "getting worse" was at the highest rate ever measured (20%), and by a three-to-one margin believed the new teacher evaluation system would "improve" rather than "worsen" the quality of K-12 education.
- Residents also indicated by nearly a 30-1 ratio that state-aid funding cuts were more likely to make things "worse" rather than to "improve" public education.
- The Survey also demonstrated support for school district sharing of services (86%), and for school districts to consider consolidation (61%).
- Two out of every five residents reported that availability of housing in the county was "getting worse".
- Even though those without health insurance are 11% of the total county residents, two out of every five report having no regular (primary care) doctor, and over a quarter (27%)chose not to seek needed medical care because of cost.
- Roughly two-thirds of residents reported that energy costs were getting worse (68%), this was down from 82% in 2011. Similar numbers of residents reported that due to higher gas prices they used their vehicles less (66%) and reduced spending in other areas (64%).
- The business sector that was rated "very important" to the Jefferson County economy by the most respondents was “maintaining farms and agriculture” (75%), while having wind farms in the region was rated "very important" by 40%.
The entire survey, including a summary of the results and the complete survey instrument, is available on the Jefferson Community college website by clicking on Annual Survey under Center for Community Studies.
For more information, please contact Dr. Raymond Petersen, Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College, 315-786-2488.