2012 Executive Summary

Many Voices One Valley 2012

Executive Summary

Many Voices One Valley 2012 marks the second quinquennial update of a study conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in partnership with the Dyson Foundation. The study focuses on what people in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley think about living in the region and pays close attention to their priorities. The New York counties included in the study are Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, and Ulster. The results document residents’ perceptions of the region and their expectations for the future.

Many Voices One Valley 2012 highlights similarities and changes that have occurred in the region over the last decade. Many of the questions asked previously have been included in this new study for comparative purposes.

In this present study, 4,443 residents of New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley were interviewed from February 2nd through March 14th, 2012. The survey results for all residents are statistically significant at 1.5%. The margin of error increases for county results and smaller sub-groups in the population.

What do the results for 2012 show, how have they changed over the past decade?

The study’s key findings include:

  • Most residents, 84%, like living in the Mid-Hudson Valley.
  • Economic concerns have surpassed health care worries as the leading priorities in the region. With 44% of residents citing business retention as their top priority, keeping businesses in the area is the leading issue for residents. Job creation follows closely behind. Reducing taxes ranks sixth and is of lesser concern than in 2007 when it placed third.
  • Residents are also concerned about the quality of jobs in their community. Nearly seven in ten residents, 69%, are disappointed with the quality of their local jobs, and 67% believe their community needs to expend more resources to improve them.
  • Most Mid-Hudson Valley residents see a bleak jobs picture. They perceive jobs as hard to come by, and nearly half of residents are concerned that someone in their household will become unemployed. If they were to lose their job, 76% of employed residents are pessimistic that they would be able to find a similar position.
  • The Mid-Hudson Valley was not immune from the recession. A notable 28% of residents found themselves searching for a job at some point after the recession hit in 2007. A majority of Mid-Hudson Valley residents, 51%, think the effects of the recession are long-lasting, and the jobs which were lost will never return.
  • Providing quality education has remained a leading concern for residents in the Mid-Hudson Valley since 2002. The issue has ranked within the top five since that time and currently places third. Providing services for senior citizens rounds out residents’ top five priorities.
  • Providing affordable health care remains a pressing concern for residents in the Mid-Hudson Valley region and is among their top five priorities. It ranked first in 2007.
  • The proportion of residents who have experienced a gap in health coverage over the past year has not changed. Today, that proportion is 24%. However, small strides have been made over the decade in providing continuous coverage to children.
  • Housing concerns are also prevalent in the region. Sixty-two percent of Mid-Hudson Valley residents think there is a need for more affordable housing. A majority of renters, 56%, say, if they cannot afford to buy a home, they will leave the region. Homeowners have their own concerns. Almost three in ten homeowners, 29%, report they would still owe more money than they would receive if they were to sell their home today.

There are three reports which detail many of the findings from the current survey as well as comparisons over the past decade. The first report, Many Voices One Valley, focuses on people’s perceptions of living and working in the Mid-Hudson Valley and discusses their priorities for the future. Making Ends Meet is the second report which presents residents’ attitudes toward the region’s affordability and other financial factors which affect their lives. Finally, Health Matters discusses people’s thoughts about the quality of health care in their community and addresses the factors that influence the ability of people to afford and access health care.  Finally, you may see the Summary of Findings for a detailed overview of all three study reports.