Watertown— According to the 6th Annual Lewis County Community Survey, the economy is still on the forefront of everyone’s mind.
The annual survey was primarily conducted to examine the quality of life as it relates to local citizens. Out of 24 issues, 40% of individuals within Lewis County stated that availability of good jobs was the biggest concern.
According to Dr. Raymond Peterson, the 2012 figures were similar to the 2007-2008 pre-recession rating. In 2007, 35% of Lewis County residents were unsatisfied with job opportunities within the area. Lewis County residents participating in the research, rated “availability of good jobs” as Poor by 44.2%, while only 13% indicated Good. Currently, the national unemployment rate is 7.9%, New York is one of 16 states that have a higher unemployment rate, than the national average at 8.2%.
Unemployment Rate in the Tri-County area:
St. Lawrence 10.2%
“It is absolutely true that 44.2% of individuals feel that job availability is Poor,” said Joel Lalone, Research Coordinator and Professor of Math and Statistics at Jefferson Community College. “But, you have to look at the 3 previous years. That is the benefit of having a longitudinal study, we can take a look at previous years.” Mr. Lalone went on to explain that from 2009-2011, over 55% of individuals ranked job availability as Poor. In 2011, the number rose the highest at 57% and has since dropped by 13%. “We see this as a clear sign of recovery” said Lalone, “we can’t wait for job satisfaction in the area to increase even higher.”
Manager at One-Stop Career Center, Tim Maloney explained that One-Stop Career Center is one resource available to Tri-County residents looking for employment. “Most of the people that come into the area, with the exception of transitioning soldiers, want to stay,” said Maloney. Mr. Maloney expressed that service industry related positions are often seasonal, which results in higher unemployment.
According to Maloney, New York Air Brake may hire 50 production workers and Florelle Tissue Corporation plans on expanding to 75 employees by the summer. “These jobs pay well,” said Maloney “but, if people plan on moving somewhere else within New York State, our job data base covers the entire state of New York.”
One-Stop Career Center is also planning on attracting more technical and medical field jobs to the Tri-County area.