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As the Economy Recovers, Concerns of Summit and Stark Residents Turn to Safety

A photo of the Summit County Courthouse.

A decade-long look at the quality-of-life in Summit County shows renewed optimism about jobs in greater Akron, even as concern over safety has risen in recent years.

The Center for Marketing and Opinion Research in Akron has polled 800 people annually for the past decade about what they think is the biggest problem facing Summit County. Employment was No. 1 each year -- until last year. That’s when residents said they’re more concerned with infrastructure. Amanda Barna, co-founder of the center, says now jobs are even less of a concern.

“This year, employment is No. 3 [and] crime and safety is No. 1. We think a big part of that has to do with the heroin and opioid epidemic.”

Barna adds that residents in Stark County – for which there is also 10 years of data – have usually responded similarly to people in Summit County.

“Generally, Stark County’s outlook is a little bit worse. So during the time when employment issues were rated by 50 percent of respondents as the No. 1 problem in Summit County, that number was closer to 55-60 percent in Stark. It kind of seem like Stark County might be two or three years behind Summit County in terms of favorability ratings and turning things around.”

The decade of surveys also shows that education has become much less of a concern since 2007, while healthcare has usually not been an issue.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.