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Lewis County is best known for rolling hills and farm fields, but residents are feeling good about its economy, too. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/">Doug Kerr</a> CC <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en">some rights reserved </a>
Lewis County is best known for rolling hills and farm fields, but residents are feeling good about its economy, too. Photo: Doug Kerr CC some rights reserved

Lewis county residents bullish on economy

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Earlier this year, Lewis County had the second highest unemployment rate in New York, behind the Bronx. But residents of Lewis County have a more positive economic outlook than they've had in years. That's according to a survey by Jefferson Community College.

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For the last six years, JCC has asked residents of Lewis County what they think about the place they live in. And this year, the responses were positive.

"Lewis County residents feel very good about Lewis County", says Ray Petersen. He directs JCC's center for community studies, which conducts the survey. He says it's not new that Lewis County residents rate their overall quality of life – their schools, their environment and recreational opportunities – high, this year at 77 percent. What is surprising is that people rate the economy better, too.

This time around it was a noticeable decline in respondents indicating that it was poor and a noticeable increase in those who said it was good.
"And this time around it was a noticeable decline in respondents indicating that it was poor and a noticeable increase in those who said it was good."

Thirty percent of respondents rated the local economy good or excellent, compared with just 19 percent the year before. Peterson says that's comparable to numbers from before the recession.

Peterson didn't want to speculate on why. He did say the surveys were done in October 2012, just before the presidential election.

Peterson says young people were particularly happy with life in Lewis County.

"The 18 to 29-year-old age group were much more positive about the outlook in terms of the economy and also the availability of good jobs."

Lewis County has benefitted from the growth around Fort Drum.

Residents did report dissatisfaction with the usual suspects – taxes, the cost of energy, and – maybe paradoxically – trouble finding a job.

The survey also asked what should happen to Lewis County General Hospital, which has been facing financial problems. More than half of the respondents said the county should continue to own and operate it.

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