Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Report: Adirondack Living Easier Than Most Places

NY Times Easy Living ReportRecent pieces (here and here) in the Adirondack Almanack stressed the importance of placing the Adirondack Park experience and condition in a national context, especially with the rest of rural America. National context is important when trying to ascertain trends in Adirondack Park demographics, economics or land use.

This past weekend, The New York Times data-crunching blog The Upshot published an interactive map that ranked the 3,135 counties in the U.S. by how hard or easy these places are to live. The indicators they chose to create this ease or hardship ranking were median income, unemployment, percent of population with a college degree, disability rate, obesity and life expectancy. The Upshot said these metrics were selected due to the availability of county level data across the U.S., which provided a profile of economic and public health conditions. Disability was not used as a health indicator, but as a data point for the non-working adult population, which was used in conjunction with unemployment.

When the The Upshot mapped its rankings county by county, what stands out are the massive swaths of Appalachia and the Deep South as landscapes of low rankings in this survey; places mired in a hard conditions. Other smaller regions experiencing chronic tough times are the Texas border, northern Michigan, northern Maine, and the far northern counties of California and southern Oregon. Counties with high Native American populations out west also stand out in Montana (Big Horn county), Arizona (Navajo, Apache), New Mexico (Cibola) and South Dakota (Shannon).

On balance, the Adirondack Park counties are doing pretty well by these indicators. The two counties that are completely within the Blue Line, Hamilton and Essex, which are often used as surrogates for the whole Adirondack Park, were ranked at 853/3,135 and 1,014/3,135, solidly in the top third. This is pretty good for rural counties, since all the top ranked counties were metropolitan counties.

Adirondacks - living is easyClinton County ranked 1,323, Washington at 1,180, and Herkimer at 1,490. Saratoga (129) and Warren (628) counties had some of the highest rankings in Upstate New York, along with Tompkins County (178). Franklin (1,872), St. Lawrence (2,048), Fulton (1,992) and Lewis (1,888) counties scored in the lower half.

The suburban counties around New York City scored very high: Westchester (98), Rockland (96), Putnam (66), and Nassau (63). This is consistent with the Times ranking which saw all of the highest scoring counties as those in close proximity to major metropolitan areas. Note that Chittenden County in Vermont, which surrounds Burlington, was ranked 41st is the country and had the highest score in the northeast.

Other New York counties that ranked as being harder places to live are some of the most remote in the New York, including Oswego (2,052), Orleans (1,894), Montgomery (2,149), Chenango (1,782) and Cattaraugus (2,064). As a group the Southern Tier counties all ranked in the bottom half.

The other Northern Forest counties in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine all scored well below the top cluster of Adirondack counties. Orleans County in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont was in the top half of ranked counties, while Essex and Coos in New Hampshire and the five Maine counties (Oxford, Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis and Aroostock) all scored solidly in the bottom half. The Northern Forest counties in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota were a mixed bag.

The most jarring thing about the Times map is the data for life expectancy rates. Here, all the Adirondack counties generally scored well, with ranges of 78-80 years. St. Lawrence had the lowest with 77.6 years, while Saratoga had the highest in the area with 80.6. This contrasts with many parts of Appalachia and the Deep South where life expectancy hovered in the low 70s and even dipped to 69 in places. There are places in the U.S. with economic and social conditions so challenging that they result in life expectancy rates 10 years less that what we have in the Adirondacks and Upstate New York. The highest ranked counties all topped 80 years, with the suburban counties around Washington, D.C. seeing life expectancy rates of 82-83 years.

In many parts of Appalachia and the Deep South the percent of the population with college degrees is around 10% and there are many counties that have single digits. Most of the Adirondack counties had college degree rates around 24%, with Saratoga County as high as 36%. Westchester County has 44% and Chittenden County in Vermont had 46%.

The combined unemployment and disability rates in most Adirondack counties ranged between 10-12%. In many of the counties that ranked as hard places to live in Appalachia and the Deep South, these combined rankings ranged from 15-20%.

The issue that has recently dominated public discussion in the Adirondacks around an aging population doesn’t seem to correlate to hard living. Cook County in Minnesota was ranked 204 by the Times, yet has a median age of 51, near to Hamilton County’s median age of 52. Litchfield County in northwest Connecticut was ranked 142nd, but has an average age similar to Essex County at 45 years old. Divide County in North Dakota has a median age of 52, yet was ranked 303. Jefferson County in Washington has one of the country’s highest median ages of 55, yet was ranked 727.

A comparison between the U.S. median age map and the Times hard living map shows that many of the lowest ranked counties in Appalachia and the Deep South have younger populations, far below the Adirondack average of 45 years. For instance, Toombs County in southeast Georgia has a median age of 36, which is below the national median age of 37, yet was ranked 2,811. Kemper County in Mississippi has a median age of 39, yet ranked 3,070. Many low scoring counties throughout the Deep South have median ages under 40 years old. As a region the cluster of counties in eastern Kentucky that form the heart of Appalachia, and received the lowest rankings in the Times report, all have median ages of 39-41 years old — a median age range that many leaders in the Adirondacks pine after.

It would be interesting the isolate the nearly 2,000 non-metro/rural counties in the U.S. and examine this set of indicators along with median age and establish a national rank. (A rank for metropolitan counties would also be useful.)

This would help to provide a national rural context to help assess for the Adirondack condition and better inform leaders about the particular challenges facing the Park and help to formulate appropriate strategies.


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Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks. He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century. He was the co-founder of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) in 1998, which has collected long-term water quality data on more than 75 Adirondack lakes and ponds. He has testified before the State Legislature, successfully advocated to pass legislation and budget items, authored numerous articles, op-eds, and reports such as "20% in 2023: An Assessment of the New York State 30 by 30 Act" (2023), "The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Economic and Population Trends 1970-2010" (2019), "The Myth of Quiet, Motor-free Waters in the Adirondack Park" (2013), and "Rutted and Ruined: ATV Damage on the Adirondack Forest Preserve" (2003) and "Growth in the Adirondack Park: Analysis of Rates and Patterns of Development" (2001). He also worked at Adirondack Life Magazine. He served as Chair of the Town of Lake George Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on numerous advisory boards for management of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve. Peter lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife, has two grown children out in the world, and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks, and is a member of the Blue Mountain Lake volunteer fire department.Follow Protect the Adirondacks on Facebook and Threads.

44 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    Look at Vermont and New Hampshire.

    • Peter Bauer says:

      Or, look at the metropolitan northeast USA in general as southern ME, most of NH and VT, virtually all of RI, CT, MA and NJ, eastern PA, DE, northern MD rank high. And, look at northern VA, which is a lot more like the rest of the northeast than it it like southern or southwest VA.

  2. Robert says:

    Thanks for trying to put a positive spin on it. Yeah, we’re generally in the top third. Big deal. Look at Chittenden county’s ranking – 41. Forty-one! Why doesn’t NY smarten-up and tap into some of that prosperity? Build the Lake Champlain bridge. Directly link Clinton with Chittenden.

    Of course, if IBM pulls out of their Essex Jct. plant, Chittenden’s 41st ranking is going to take a nose dive. If Global Foundries takes over some segment of the IBM operation, and wants more direct access to the Northway to link Essex Jct to it’s Malta plant, a bridge would also facilitate that connection.

    NY and VT need to step back, look at the big picture for the North Country (which does include VT) and cooperatively plan for the future. Together.

    • John Warren says:

      That’s some comment. This study obviously shows that according to these measures the Adirondacks is among the best places in America to live. So, considering the drumbeat of doom from those on the right in this region, it is a big deal. I noticed you didn’t bother to offer any actual evidence or line of reasoning that might call into question these numbers.

      Chittenden County is centered on Burlington, among the most progressive politically, and environmentally minded cities in America, with college education rates nearly twice that in the Adirondacks – leftist, educated, environmentally minded – of course it’s doing well.

      The last thing the people of Burlington would seek or approve is a bridge connecting them to Plattsburgh or investing millions in taxpayer subsidies to provide for the welfare of corporations. You seem to want to remain in a 1950s mindset, but ask Kingston how their experience with IBM went, or Schenectady, or Hudson Falls, how they liked the destruction GE left behind.

      If you want to live in a suburban area or city, then move to Chittenden County – you can still drive here easily to enjoy what we have to offer in the Adirondacks (and no doubt you will, while continuing to complain about it).

      Nearly all Adirondack residents I’ve ever met are not interested in living in a city or in suburbia – most of us live here happily avoiding all that.

      • Will Doolittle says:

        I agree with you about taxpayer subsidies of big corporations, John. But I don’t see how these numbers, which are interesting, show that “the Adirondacks is among the best places in America to live.” I’m sure some people feel that way, which is great. But these numbers do not show that.

        • John Warren says:


          What I said was “according to these measures the Adirondacks is among the best places in America to live”

          The numbers show that the Adirondacks has a higher median income, lower unemployment, higher portion of a population with a college degree, a lower disability rate, lower obesity and longer life expectancy than 2/3 of the country.

          What would convince you that life is pretty good – chocolate streams flowing from rock candy mountains?

          Of course there are many folks for whom life is not pretty good, that’s a problem for the entire country and a lot more of a problem in most of the rest of the country.

          • Will Doolittle says:

            I don’t think being in the top third equates as being among the best places in America to live. Being in the top 800 or 1,000 counties out of about 3,000 doesn’t equal being among the best. If I were to come in 100th out of 300 in a race, I’d be guilty of exaggeration, I think, if I bragged I was among the best.

            • Paul says:

              Many people want to move to the area (or stay in the area) because it is such a great place to live (IMHO). But they can’t, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great place to live. There are problems for sure and this type of data doesn’t address any of those issues it just says what it says about the place today.

              If someone thinks that regulations are slowing economic development they can make that argument this doesn’t mean that isn’t true.

              If someone thinks that protecting additional land as public land will improve things this data doesn’t support that argument either.

          • Paul says:

            “What would convince you that life is pretty good – chocolate streams flowing from rock candy mountains?”

            I have actually found one of these! It is near the Lost Brook Tract.

            • Pete Nelson says:

              No, you took a wrong turn into Railroad Notch dude. Our route has streams running pure Stolichnaya.

  3. AdkBuddy says:

    Regardless of the spin put on this, the Adirondack economy can do better and hopefully will in spite of Mr. Bauer’s postulations.

    • John Warren says:

      Yes, we could move could from the top third of the country to the top tenth.

      We should start by trying to convince the people who are constantly complaining about this place, who are constantly claiming that it’s terrible to live here and it’s the fault of those trying to protect our wild places, that they are wrong and they should stop projecting a false image of life here.

      Thankfully, Peter is contributing to setting the record straight.

      Your record, AdkBuddy, as shown in your comments here, has been to be as divisive as possible. Plenty of aspersions cast on others, but in nearly 40 comments you have never once produced a single fact to back up anything you’ve had to say. Plenty of opinion, plenty of calling people “extremists”, sowing mistrust (“I don’t trust some of these ARTA people”), and BS claims that the real goal of those who disagree with you and who present facts “is to trash the economy here and drive the regulars folks out”.

      As you’ve shown again here, your nasty flippant anonymous comments contribute not one wit to the discussion.

      • AdkBuddy says:

        Not nasty or flippant. You just don’t like the fact that you and your cronies are being called out for what you are. Fascist extremists. Plain and simple. You want the state to do you dirty work for you, hence all the frivolous lawsuits. Would you like some cheese with your whine? You don’t like what is happening here, put up your own money and buy the land and take it off the market. Oh, that’s right, that’s that dirty thing called capitalism.

  4. Paul says:

    This is a pretty interesting map. It is pretty hard to figure out what makes actually makes a place “easy to live”.

    If you were to add in the data for seasonal residents (I assume this is based on census data and does not really factor that in) the education and income level probably would be considerably higher for the Adirondacks than it is.

    Peter, is that factored in in some way?

    If you look at a place like Tompkins county there it is obviously the fact that Cornell is there that is scores so well. In that case you have a rural place looking like something more urban or suburban.

    • Will Doolittle says:

      If the seasonal residents are factored in, which I assume they are not, that would invalidate the data, because their ease of living level stems from their life in their home residence, not their vacation home.

      • Paul says:

        Which is which? Some folks just live in several places and many work in both. They spend their money in both, pay their taxes in both. I many cases create jobs in both places.

        • Will Doolittle says:

          Really? I think generally people have a life and a career in one place, then get a second home somewhere else, where they spend time. For instance, lots of people from the North Country who can afford it spend much of every winter in Florida. But their career, their families, the lifestyle they established was established in the North Country. Likewise, lots of people from downstate and other places have second homes in the Tri-Lakes or wherever. They may spend a lot of time in northern New York, they may even eventually move there, but as far as these measures go that we’re talking about — income, college education, health — those were established elsewhere.

          • Paul says:

            “They may spend a lot of time in northern New York, they may even eventually move there, but as far as these measures go that we’re talking about — income, college education, health — those were established elsewhere.”

            Perhaps, but they have brought all of that HERE for a substantial part of the year. Seems like that should account for something once it is HERE.

            Look at all the private planes flying into Lake Clear at the end of the week and the same ones flying out on Sunday evening, or for longer stays. Those folks live in both (or more places). And even more people do this on wheels. We are not as physically tied to a place of work as we have been in the past.

            • Will Doolittle says:

              Of course it counts for something. The second-home residents add a lot to the local economy, and that is reflected in the incomes of local people. But just as the Census does not count people as residing in their vacation home so you would not include data from those folks in this sort of survey. If you’re a broker on Wall Street with a million-dollar salary and a second home in Lake Clear, it makes no sense to count that salary among the salaries of residents of Lake Clear.

  5. John Sullivan says:

    Sadly, social and industrial history seem big contributors to the map’s worst — the old South, labor-intensive agricultural practices and extraction industries seem to be the common denominator.

    • Outlier says:

      I don’t agree. The oil shale extraction has certainly not hurt North Dakota. Having coal being essentially declared illegal hasn’t helped W. Virginia and Kentucky. However, poverty poverty has always been a way of life in those regions. Does anyone really believe these residents would be better off in Cambridge MA?

      It does seem to help significantly if a county has or is adjacent to a large college / university or the state capitol, both of which concentrate tax dollars in a specific location.

      There are some exceptions that actually support this. Dauphin County PA (1321) has the capitol, Harrisburg. Harrisburg has been in financial difficulty which is unheard of for a state capitol (there is a good reason for this). Just north is Northumberland County (2350) which appears to have been dependent on coal.

  6. Paul says:

    St. Lawrence county has got to get to the gym a little more often!

    The median income in Hamilton County is not too shabby. Pete Klein is this mainly book royalties you are pulling in??

    Seriously, what are the main employers in that county?

  7. Paul says:

    It is interesting if you look at this information on Hamilton County (which I was surprised to see that only 6% of its economy appears to be related to tourism) they count “second home” purchases as part of the tourist sector. I know lots of folks around Saranac Lake that own second homes that are simply up the lake from their other homes. This same phenomena is probably true in other areas. Many of these places are slowly being sold off to seasonal residents as real estate prices have risen.

    • Paul says:

      Sorry, that is traveler income at 6%. Total labor income related to tourism is 50% for Hamilton County.

  8. thomas sciacca says:

    this article is a complete whitewash of the dire economic straits that most working class Adirondackers experience.
    my work over the last 40 years has brought me in touch with the dirt floor Appalachian type poverty marks the lives of many of our neighbors.

    Forget the phony ginned up data.
    I would like the editor to come with me on my rounds and see what I see. From Northville to Duane..from Inlet to North River schools and stores closed up. Proud folks who worked all their lives at modest yet rewarding work are reduced the an occasional job and then welfare over the winter. I’ll show him another type of Adirondack architecture that is the opposite of rustic great camps …where the only diamond window is form by plastic wrap angled against blue tarp, where the wood stove is not a quaint accoutrement but the only heat available

    I have written before that Adirondack ‘Real’ Life is a universe away and beyond the sight of those that only view the pages of ADIRONDACK LIFE.

    The Joseph Goebbels of the Greens cab dress it up anyway he like but his callous attitude continually bespeaks a ‘let them eat cake attitude worthy of Maire Antoinette.
    The man the social conscience of a flea.

    • John Warren says:

      Yes, Adirondack Life, the Nazis, and the New York Times made all this up just to deny that there are poor people in the Adirondacks.

      Thank you Thomas for clearing that up.

      • thomas sciacca says:


        when i moved here and i was told a story about the rich pushing out the locals and i thought it a fairytale. i can understand why a johnny-come -lately such as yourself finds it so hard to believe

        unfortunately the vision of the last 40 years gives me evidence that the story is, regrettably, all too correct

        look at the acr lawsuit and tell me that Protects efforts have not thwarted the economic revival of tupper and the rt 30 corridor for the last 2 years

        now you should know that i did not write anything conspiratorial about Adirondack Life, other than that it only shows one aspect of north country life giving the impression of a region full of prosperity when then opposite is closer to the truth.

        and i mentioned nothing about the times or nazis so i’ll chalk up the rest of your smartalec reply to youth


        • John Warren says:

          Tom, you are offering plenty of insults and innuendo, but not one piece of evidence that refutes what’s presented in this essay.

          • thomas sciacca says:

            plenty of insults and innuendo?
            re read my original post and then your childish reply before casting stones mate.

            fact i never criticized the TIMES or mentioned Nazis yet you somehow you weaseled them in your reply , not much innuendo there huh?. your reply was totally dismissive of my points

            if your idea of an insult is being called a johnny come lately, which you are, and a smartalec which you were,then you need to grow a much thicker skin

            fact; tupper lake lake class of 74 was 126
            this june was 56

            fact; citing number of college grads in saratoga as a representative sample of the adirondacks is outright fraud

            fact life expectancy is based on a multitude of factor that have little to do with quality of life and/or heath services delivery ..just a few of the misapplied, cherry picked facts bauer took from the times report

            i withdraw my invitation to travel with me into impoverished sections inside the Blueline.

            your obviously a man impervious to rational debate…a sad thing indeed for an editor

            or was that too much of an insult?

            • John Warren says:

              Tom, until now you have not made any points.

              “Forget the phony ginned up data.” – That’s your description of the Times data.
              “The Joseph Goebbels of the Greens” – That’s Peter Bauer you’re referring to as a Nazi propagandist.

              Fact – declining rural schools is a fact of life across America, nothing unusual there. Schools here never consolidated as most rural New York Districts did in the 1960s-1990s. Smaller schools are sought after amenities for many parents.

              Fact – he didn’t cite the number of grads in Saratoga as a representative sample of the Adirondacks; you made that up.

              Fact – life expectancy is one important measure of quality of life used here, not the only one. The other FIVE are median income, unemployment, percent of population with a college degree, disability rate, and obesity rate. These are all reasonable markers of quality of life, especially when combined into one index and spread over the whole country. People here live longer, have more money, are more frequently employed, more educated, and have less disability and less obesity than two-thirds of the population of the United States. If that’s not a measure of quality of life, please tell us which indicators we should be using. If you have data that shows any the data here is false, by all means present it.

              I don’t need your invitation to see poverty, I’m well aware of it. My wife is a visiting nurse. No one is suggesting that there is not poverty, or that it’s not a serious problem.

              • AdkBuddy says:

                Sounds like Tom, along with a lot of other folks, have your number John. Again, would you like some cheese with that whine

    • Chris says:

      I think the important take away from Peter’s article (and the NY Times analysis) is that there are ways to determine whether your local economic condition is due to your regional circumstances or your socio-economic circumstances. In other words, we all agree there are problems in the Adirondacks, but are they because of the Adirondacks or are they because our entire country is brutal on our lowest class citizens.

      Peter is not implying that things are rosy in the Adirondacks and everyone needs to stop complaining. What he is saying is that we should stop criticizing the local policies and blaming them for the situation. What the data here shows is that DESPITE being deeply rural area, the things being done in the Adirondacks are actually serving to keep the region ahead of the pack when compared to other deeply rural areas.

      What this shows is that ALL of rural America is suffering and the vast majority is suffering MORE than the Adirondacks. We all know that there are dirt poor folks living in the Adirondacks and they are practically imprisoned by a lack of opportunity. But take a ride into the deepest parts of Appalachia and I guarantee you will have a new appreciation for regional poverty.

      If we want to move forward we have to be willing to have unbiased, data-driven discussions about what’s being done differently inside the blue line that keeps this region ahead of its peers. Whatever it is, let’s do more of it!

      But at the same time we have to be realistic. There are endemic problems in this country that are going to limit how well any rural region can do economically. You can’t expect the Adirondacks to be on par with downstate metropolitan areas without something equivalent to a national political revolution.

      • thomas sciacca says:


        thank you for your kind perspective..
        peter and the rest of the green community have been telling us for quite some time how good we have it and the intent is to disguise the actual conditions so as to resist any notion of reform…graduating class of tupper ’74 was 128 this year 56. anybody who compares the college grad rate in Saratoga co. to Hamilton, Franklin and Essex is telling a whopper

        i know the conditions of Appalachia well and don’t need further education.i can tell you with first hand experience that we have the same conditions in the adirondacks. my work brings me in contact with it almost daily.
        where are these thing you speak of to keep us ahead of the pack? millions for lake placid (money well spent i say) millions more to acquire state land but nothing to clear up brownfields in speculator, star lake, or colton.

        The titus mountain expansion just 1 mi north of the blueline took 1 yr to get all its permits from dec etc.
        and now that it is complete there is no sign of environmental degradation so dont buy the line that over regulation does not inhibit economic action

        we should be so lucky we are not at at the bottom? we should be realistic and accept our vassal state?

        nobody is asking to like downstaters ,God forbid, I know no one who wants to be like lake george or lake placid (no offense neighbors)….but there is a notion held by some that we have no right to attend our own affairs and determine our own path and to me that is very offensive

        social justice demands reform

        all the best

    • Ron Vanselow says:

      You picked the wrong place for one of your gloom and doom points of view. You include North River in your list of places where “schools and stores (are) closed up”. North River is a mecca for the rafting industry. Pretty much wall to wall businesses. The only business in the hamlet that is currently closed is a gem shop where the proprietor is deceased. And the Johnsburg school is chugging along okay despite the tax cap thank you. In fact, pretty much every town has its pockets of poverty, but you chose the wrong example this time.

  9. dave says:

    What is it that makes people feel so negatively about where they live? It is so prevalent, and not just here in the Adirondacks, that I have to imagine it is something ingrained in some folks, some part of human nature, that makes these particular people so… unhappy. So focused on the negative.

    Even when they are presented with facts and data that highlight the positives of where they live… they still seem to want to focus on the negative. Even when they are shown information that suggests that where they live is not such a bad place after all… even when that information shows that compared to other places, things are pretty good… Nope. Still miserable.

    I have to wonder if people like this would ever really be happy… anywhere.

    • thomas sciacca says:


      i could give you a list of the holes in peters piece which is full of cherry picked facts and incorrect interpretations

      but i am a very slow typist and happy hour awaits

      suffice to say that we have a long history with mr bauers writing and his version of any giving story is viewed with strong skepticism….as one critic put it…”( he could not get elected dogcatcher”)


  10. Paul says:

    The data here (by their measure) does show that some parts of rural NYS is doing alright relative to other rural areas. Their is no correlation between this data and the idea that protecting wild land is the reason for the result. Just like there is no correlation that protecting wild land is the reason these areas are not scoring higher on this scale. This doesn’t support either side of that debate.

  11. ethan says:

    Alas, I don’t see how the data support the idea that the Adirondacks rank in the top third by these criteria — sure they do, by county level. But what percent of the US population lives in areas that are “easier living” than the Adirondacks? Since metro counties tend to rank at the top by these measures, the answer, I suspect, is most of the population has an “easier” time than the Adirondacks.

    What this data shows, which is very interesting, is that the Adirondacks, by these criteria, rank above many other (less-regulated) rural areas.

    The upshot, I think, is that your title is misleading and should read “Easier Than Most Other RURAL Places”

  12. Peter Bauer says:

    You can quibble about the title with the Almanack editor. He writes the titles around here.

    On the point of the piece, it was simply to point out rankings of Adirondack counties in a national context by a set of indicators selected by a group of professionals who have no ideological axe to grind.

    By looking at Hamilton-Essex counties, both wholly within the Blue Line, and oft used as surrogates for the Adirondack Park, this area ranked high.

    As I said in the piece it would be fun to look at this ranking just for rural areas. That said, many of the top ranked counties I clicked on are either urban areas or the suburban circle around urban areas. There are some exceptions like Cook County, IL (Chicago), Baltimore County, MD (Baltimore) or Essex County, NJ (Newark) that score low and are big metro counties.

    Rural areas throughout Appalachia and the Deep South generally scored poorly whereas many rural areas across the Midwest and west score better, similar to the Adirondack Park.

    It seems that if we had a ranking on these indicators for the 1,976 rural counties (USDA number for 2013) in the U.S. then the Adirondack counties would rank even higher than the top third, in the top 20-25% or so, perhaps higher, which runs contrary to the conventional wisdom.

    One other interesting thing to me is that given all the hype about the high median age of the Adirondack population, many or the lowest ranking areas in the U.S. have much younger median ages than the Adirondacks. So, at least by these indicators, which include median family income and unemployment, there’s not much to the idea that median age is a useful indicator of economic prosperity.

    • Paul says:

      Median age is just useful in where your particular county is going to be in the future.

      It is interesting that the number one county in the country is in a very rural part of New Mexico.

  13. New dataset for various quality of life measures places the Adirondack Park in a national context | Protect the Adirondacks! says:

    […] This article was originally published on the Adirondack Almanack. […]

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