Top Priorities

While many concerns Mid-Hudson Valley residents had in 2007 are still top of mind today, 2012 marks a few notable changes. Health care issues have fallen in the rankings and have been surpassed by economic concerns like the retention of businesses and job creation. Interestingly, though, fewer residents are worried about reducing their taxes.

Other issues that residents place in their top ten priorities include providing services for senior citizens, reducing taxes, making their community safer, and protecting open space.

Trend

Using a scale from 0 to 10, residents assessed the importance they believe should be placed on a host of issues affecting their community.  The topics ranged from health care to the economy and taxes to community services.

The top concern for residents in 2012, overall, is keeping businesses in the area.  The issue receives a mean score, or average rating, of 8.0 out of a possible 10.  Employment is also top of mind for Mid-Hudson Valley residents.  With a rating of 7.9, creating more jobs ranks as their second most pressing concern.

Education, receiving an average of 7.6, is high on the list of priorities for Mid-Hudson Valley residents. The need for more after-school activities for children and teenagers also ranks among residents’ top ten priorities for the region.

Affordable health care, ranked number one in 2007, places fourth this year with an average of 7.5. The accessibility of health care is also a worry for Mid-Hudson Valley residents. It ranks eighth on the list and has an average rating of 7.3.

County Comparison

In 2012, residents of Columbia County emphasize business and employment over other priorities in the region. Keeping businesses in the area is now the leading priority for the county, followed by creating more jobs, and making health care more affordable.

Many issues which were important to Dutchess County residents in 2007 remain priorities for them now. However, creating more jobs and keeping businesses in the area have bypassed making health care more affordable. Job creation is residents’ key concern, garnering an average rating of 8.2. Keeping businesses in the area is also highly valued and receives a rating of 8.2. It is interesting to note that less than four one-thousandths of a point separates the two priorities.
Since 2002, keeping businesses in the area and improving the quality of public education have been the two most important issues for Green County residents. In 2012, the same holds true. The retention of businesses receives a rating of 8.0, and improving the quality of public schools garners 7.7. Job creation is also of significant importance in this county. The issue receives a score of 7.7 as well, and ranks third.

While Orange County residents were mostly concerned with making health care more affordable in 2007, keeping businesses in the area is now their most important priority. This harkens back to 2002 when retaining businesses in the county was also key for residents. Employment is also of concern. With a rating of 8.0, job creation ranks second. In 2007, job creation was a lesser priority and placed eighth.

Putnam County follows other regional trends. Residents in the county are focused on keeping businesses in the area. This is a consistent concern for those in Putnam County. In 2007, it ranked second and received an average rating of 7.9. Creating new jobs is of increasing importance for Putnam County residents. In 2007, the issue ranked ninth and had a rating of 6.9. It is now the second most pressing concern and receives an average of 7.3. In 2007, residents in Putnam County expressed a strong desire to reduce taxes. The issue, which ranked as the leading priority for the region, received a mean score of 8.0. Today, it ranks as the third most important issue and has a rating of 7.2. The issue’s current ranking is reflective of what it received in 2002 when it also placed third.

Residents in Sullivan County continue to be concerned with keeping businesses in the area. Like 2007, the retention of businesses is their most important priority and receives a score of 7.8. Job creation follows with an average of 7.6. Five years ago, creating more jobs placed third.

Making health care more affordable is no longer the top priority for Ulster County residents. The issue, which has been displaced by economic concerns, claimed the top spot in 2007 and 2002. In 2007, affordable health care received a rating of 7.9.

With an average score of 8.0, keeping businesses in the area is the leading priority for Ulster County residents. It ranked fifth in 2007.

Although its average score remains unchanged since 2007, the need to create more jobs has moved up from the sixth most pressing priority to the second one.

The largest change is in residents’ waning concern for reducing taxes. The issue ranks ninth with a rating of 7.1. In 2007, it fared third with an average score of 7.9. Tax reduction’s current rating and ranking reflect its 2002 levels.

Demographic Comparison

Gender, Age

Young adults in the Mid-Hudson Valley, age eighteen to thirty, are focused on employment. Creating more jobs ranks first among their priorities and receives an average score 7.9. The issue has catapulted to the top of the list. In 2007, the issue rated fifth among this group. Residents aged eighteen to thirty also want businesses to remain in the area. With a rating of 7.8, the issue has jumped up to the second spot from sixth in 2007. Here, too, there is little change in rating. Five years ago, the issue received a score of 7.7.

Residents of pre-retirement age, that is, those between fifty and sixty-four years of age, rank keeping businesses in the area as their leading concern. With an average rating of 8.1, the issue displaces making health care more affordable from the top of the list. In 2007, affordable health care also received a score of 8.1 out of 10. This shift in public opinion harkens back to 2002 when business retention ranked first and received an average score of 8.0.

Creating more jobs is of increasing concern to this group. They rank job creation second, and its score is 8.0. The issue has propelled upward on the list of priorities. Five years ago, it ranked seventh and received an average score of 7.5.

Business retention and improving the quality of public schools are the top two priorities for senior citizens, residents sixty-five years of age or older, in the Mid-Hudson Valley. These rankings mark a shift among this group. In 2007 and 2002, making health care more affordable and keeping businesses in the area were their first and second priorities for the Mid-Hudson region.

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Race

Unlike many groups in the Mid-Hudson Valley, African American residents now emphasize the accessibility of health care as their leading concern. While its rating of 8.1 out of 10 has remained the same, the issue has risen from a rank of ninth to the number one priority for African Americans. It displaces creating more jobs as the top priority which now ranks second and has a mean score of 7.8. In 2007, job creation’s average was 7.8.

Improving the quality of public schools remains a large concern for Latino residents in the Mid-Hudson Valley. However, for the first time since 2002, the issue is no longer their top priority. It is replaced by the need to create more jobs.
While its 8.2 rating has not changed over the past five years, job creation is now Latinos’ number one priority. Keeping businesses in the area follows with an average score of 8.1. Here, too, the average for business retention has not changed much, but its ranking has increased from seventh in 2007.

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Income, Education

Like the Mid-Hudson Valley, overall, households with low income, that is, those with an annual household income of less than $30,000, now emphasize business retention and job creation over other issues, like health care.

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Households with Children

The leading priorities of Mid-Hudson Valley households with children reflect, overall, regional trends. With an average score of 8.2, keeping businesses in the area is the number one concern for these residents. Creating jobs is second, and improving the quality of public schools is third.

This is the first time in a decade that education has not topped the list of priorities among Mid-Hudson Valley residents with children. The issue claimed the number one spot on the priority list in both 2007 and 2002. The average score of education is currently 7.9, down from 8.1 in 2007 and 8.2 in 2002.

Making health care more affordable has also slipped from the upper echelon of families’ concerns. In 2007, it ranked third. Now, it is sixth. However, like 2007, reducing taxes appears in the number four position on the list of priorities.

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Registered Voters

86% of Mid-Hudson Valley residents are registered to vote. This is comparable to both 2007 and 2002. The counties boast similar findings. More than 80% of residents in each of the seven counties are registered to vote at their current address. Once again, Putnam County has the greatest proportion of registered voters.

While 2007 marked a shift in party registration in the Mid-Hudson Valley, little has changed in the past five years. Today, 36% are registered Democrats, 29% are Republicans, and 34% are not enrolled in a political party.

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Registered Voters

86% of Mid-Hudson Valley residents are registered to vote. This is comparable to both 2007 and 2002. The counties boast similar findings. More than 80% of residents in each of the seven counties are registered to vote at their current address. Once again, Putnam County has the greatest proportion of registered voters.

While 2007 marked a shift in party registration in the Mid-Hudson Valley, little has changed in the past five years. Today, 36% are registered Democrats, 29% are Republicans, and 34% are not enrolled in a political party.