Student-Faculty Research Uncovers Area Economic Data

September 9, 2009

The work of three Hartwick students and Assistant Professor of Economics Kristin Roti Jones is being used to help area school districts understand the local economy, future jobs, and the types of educational opportunities that will most benefit students.

Earlier this year, Dan Parisian ’10, Elizabeth Couch ’12, and Victor Kalvaitis ’09 were chosen by Jones to help compile an economic overview of Otsego County. Looking at census and government data, the group studied a decade of economic activity. On August 17, they presented their findings to area school board members at The School Boards Institute’s summer workshop.

In their discussion, Economic and Demographic Data for Decision-Making, Jones and Parisian presented the group’s results of up-to-date data on employment, growth, and wages in the county. The information will help school districts with long-range planning of courses and programs, and will allow them to tailor programs to the demographics and needs of their area.

“It gives a little bit of a picture of how the economy has changed,” Parisian said. “Locally, we are following national trends.”

Their presentation included an overview of employment, how the area has changed in the past 10 years, employment opportunities, and what percentage of the population is employed. What the group found is that the largest professional field in the area is health and education, followed by hospitality and leisure. That means school districts are now able to tailor their classes to those fields.

“In a town this size, it’s easy for the students to get involved,” Jones said. “It benefits the community and we get a lot from them in return.”

The idea for the project picks up on a study conducted by Nancy Brooks and Richard Schramm at the University of Vermont. There, the college put together an economic overview of Burlington, VT. The community service and research project turned out to be a good fit for both Hartwick students and local organizations, Jones said.

“This is helpful because we’re a small community, and this is something that isn’t done on a regular basis,” she said. “There were a lot of people interested in this.”

Working with the Otsego County Economic Development Department, SUNY Oneonta’s Center for Economic and Community Development, and the city of Oneonta, the students gained insight into what they can do with economics and learned practical skills in their field.

“When you can go out on your own, collect your own data,” Parisian said, “it’s a way to take what you learned in the classroom and bring it to the real world.”

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick’s expansive Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum merges traditional liberal arts study, personalized teaching, and experiential learning approaches to emphasize Connecting the Classroom to the World. Add to that a wide range of off-campus internships, collaborative research, study-abroad opportunities, and a unique January Term, and Hartwick prepares students for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Jennifer Moritz
Phone: 607-431-4038