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The results are in for workforce perception study

More than half of Longmont residents polled feel Longmont is safe and welcoming.

Longmont Economic Development Partnership, or LEDP, released the results of the 2021 Workforce Perception Survey — a study to gauge Longmont residents' views on living and working in the area.

More than 200 Longmont residents responded to the survey when it was issued in May 2021. The results show that more than half of the participants feel that Longmont is a safe and respectful place to live.

LEDP put out a perception survey in 2020 as well, and in some questions the statistics were somewhat higher for the previous years. In 2020, 80% of the respondents rated Longmont as a safe place to live, while this year showed only 52% felt that way.

This shift in numbers is likely due to a greater sample size for the survey itself, according to LEDP CEO Jessica Erickson. The 2020 survey had only 62 participants compared to 207 people in 2021.

“What we’re really looking at are those factors that most respondents find important and also rank Longmont highly as areas where we’re doing well as a community and should continue to reinforce because they matter to people,” Erickson said.

Erickson said the percentage shift didn’t matter nearly as much as the way those issues were ranked by importance as well as whether or not Longmont performed well. 

“For example, relative to the lifestyle factors we assessed, housing cost and overall cost of living remained extremely important and an area that Longmont has not performed well from a workforce perception,” Erickson said. “However, last year housing availability was also important and showed up in the study as a factor on which Longmont performed well.”

Another example Erickson gave was a dynamic shift in participants valuing living in a community where people shared similar views. According to the 2020 survey, participants didn’t feel it was important but Longmont performed very well. In 2021, it was scaled at a higher importance while still performing relatively well. 

“With the career factors we assessed, what was important and where we performed well last year — sense of community and work/life balance — remained two of the most important factors where Longmont performed best,” Erickson said.

More than half of the 2021 survey participants felt Longmont has a strong work/life balance and 60% felt that Longmont had a strong community vibe. 

Wages, for two years in a row, remain very important to Longmont residents, however, the perception of how Longmont’s wages rank changed over the past year, Erickson said. In 2020, residents ranked wages as performing well, but this year the opposite was true. 

“This is where the ‘perceptions’ in workforce perceptions study comes into play,” Erickson said. “Wages didn’t change that significantly in that time, in fact they went up. However, we know that wages are a topic of national conversation impacting workers perceptions of wages at the local level. We also know that what people accepted as a good wage a year ago is not the same today.”

Erickson indicated that part of the shift in perceptions, particularly related to living in a community that shares views and the importance of community safety, to COVID and other national issues. The largest shift Erickson addressed was in response to housing.

“The shift in perceptions of housing availability directly correlates to the unprecedented real estate market we are experiencing right now, including the extremely low inventory,” she said.

According to Erickson, the LEDP has also finished a primary industry survey to be published with the organization's state of industry report in the fall.

“It should come as a surprise to no one that the number one challenge addressed by industry leaders in that survey is also the affordability and availability of housing locally for their workforce,” Erickson said. “There is no more important issue facing Longmont right now than the issue of affordable housing at all levels, which is reinforced by (the Workforce Perception Survey) and our industry surveys.”

Other statistics of note for the 2021 survey:

  • 54% of respondents rank Longmont schools well 
  • 55% enjoy the arts and culture in Longmont 
  • 70% ranked access to outdoor activities as both important and accessible

“We’re looking at those factors that most respondents find important and also rank Longmont low as areas where we need to invest resources,” Erickson said. “They matter most (to our residents) and we’re not doing as well.”