“They’re currently seeing the job situation [in Coos] as pretty bleak,” Jaffee says of Coos County’s high school class of 2009. Only 19 percent believe it’s easy for people their age to find jobs. That’s a steep decrease from 2 years earlier, when 67 percent believed they could easily find a job in the region.
Yet, Jaffee says, it’s clear these young adults are experiencing conflicting priorities. According to the study, participants’ overwhelming priority is finding a steady, secure job. However, results also suggest that most participants would move back or stay in Coos County if they could find a good job there.
And that is where things are getting exciting, Jaffee says. Two indicators in Coos County suggest the economy is growing in the region – slowly, to be sure – but growing nonetheless. Over 2011 there was a .4 percent decrease in the unemployment rate in Coos, the first decrease since 2005. Coos also saw an increase in rooms and meals tax receipts, evidence that more people are spending money in the region.
Many adults in Coos are optimistic, Jaffee says, and she wants to know “how that message is going to filter down.” Will the region’s young adults consider returning to Coos after college? Or have they already written the region off long ago, having grown up believing that “’Coos isn’t where I’m going to find a job.’”
To find that out, Jaffee has to wait for the next round of surveys, which will be administered next year.