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Stark County residents' concerns about economy growing, new Community Pulse Report finds

Photo of the Stark County Courthouse
M.L. Schultze
The 2023 Stark County Community Pulse Report finds residents feel about the same about the county as they did last year.

A new poll monitoring the quality of life in Stark County shows residents' opinions about the county didn't change much from last year, but fewer said they're better off financially.

The Center for Marketing and Opinion Research publishes the Stark County Community Pulse report annually to assess the quality of life in the county, with the goal of assisting community leaders in identifying community needs.

The report assesses what residents are concerned about, how they’re feeling about the local economy and more.

Residents' opinions are consistent with the 2022 report, principal Amanda Barna said.

Crime and safety concerns is number one, followed by economic issues, number two," Barna said. "That was the same as last year.”

More than a quarter of residents named crime and safety concerns as the most important problem facing Stark County.

The biggest change from last year is how residents are feeling economically, Barna said.

“This is the lowest percentage of residents who have stated they are better off financially than a few years ago," Barna said.

Only 18% of residents reported being better off financially than a few years ago.

Other than that, residents are feeling more or less stable, Barna said.

“The county is pretty stable in a lot of different areas," Barna said. "The economic indicators are a little bit concerning but not surprising given where we are, the political environment of what it is right now.”

A quarter of residents listed economic issues as the most important problem facing Stark County. Only half of residents rated the availability of job opportunities favorably. This had reached a high of 59% in 2022. The survey found favorable ratings for the availability of affordable housing at 35%, down 24% from three years ago. A third of residents rated the local economy favorably, a 13% drop from 2021.

Sixty-one percent of residents were satisfied with Stark County as a place to live, the lowest positive rating for the second year in a row.

"It'll be interesting to look at over the next year or two if some of these downward trends continue to go down or if we've hit the bottom and we'll make a turn and go the other way," Barna said.

For the first time, residents were asked to rate the quality of entertainment and cultural activities in the county and the job of local police. Almost half of residents rated the quality of local entertainment favorably, and more than half of residents rated the job of the local police favorably. However, there were big demographic differences in how residents viewed the local police. Sixty percent of white residents rated the police favorably, while only 28% of nonwhite residents agreed.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.