The gist: Slightly more than half of Lafayette Parish residents think the parish is on the right track, despite a high level of concern for their economic security, according to a quality of life survey commissioned by One Acadiana and presented at its first CivicCon event Wednesday night.
Mixed bag. Modeled on a program developed in Pensacola, the 1A survey sets a baseline for its Vibrant Acadiana initiative, which aims to measure and improve quality of life in the region. The results reveal mixed feelings about opportunity in the Lafayette area and what ought to be done about.
52% say Lafayette is on the right track. Keynote speaker Quint Studer, who helped 1A scope and develop the survey and initiative, said the result was fairly high, warning it might lull locals into a false sense of accomplishment.
“I think two years from now you won’t be happy with 52, but right now it’s a great place to start,” Studer said. By contrast, 32% said Lafayette was trending in the wrong direction, a figure Studer observed with some concern.
Traffic, economy, crime, Covid and education topped the list of issues prioritized by participants. Polling firm Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy reached 625 people in October for the baseline survey by landline and cellphone. Here’s the sample’s demographic breakdown:
54% are pessimistic about economic conditions. Negative impressions of Lafayette’s economy were highest among Black residents and people inside the city of Lafayette.
50% are concerned about their job security. 28% replied “very concerned.” The level of concern is consistent with a slump in Lafayette’s metro labor market. Lafayette shed thousands of jobs after the 2014/2015 oil bust. And as economic output rekindled, jobs have not kept pace.
62% say Lafayette has too little affordable housing. Studer noted that figure is consistent with national trends. Housing costs have climbed around the country, and Lafayette’s breakneck pace of home sales have tightened the market.
Is perception reality? On the whole, the survey reveals an optimistic community, albeit with wide swings between demographic segments. 73% rated Lafayette’s quality of life positively, and despite registering concern about economic conditions, most felt in tune with plans for economic and community development.
What’s next? 1A will hold quarterly CivicCon events going forward. Next, the regional chamber will develop a dashboard to track quality of life indicators, modeled off a dashboard maintained by the Studer Community Institute, Studer’s civic organization that leads quality-of-life efforts in Escambia County, Florida.