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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hickory Metro - 5th Most Miserable in the United States

An article from Wall St 24/7 -  March 26, 2013 -  America’s Most Content (and Miserable) Cities - 24/7 Wall St.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has surveyed 1.7 million Americans since it was first conducted in 2008, measures the physical and emotional health of residents in 189 of the nation’s largest metropolitan regions. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the scores of each metro area in the six categories that comprise Gallup’s index to identify the cities that did best and worst.

5. Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, N.C.
> Well-being index score: 62.7
> Obesity: 32.1%
> Median household income: $38,923
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 79.0%

Nowhere else in the nation did people have as negative an evaluation of their lives as in the Hickory metro area. A major reason was that survey respondents living there were less optimistic about their life in five years than respondents in almost all other parts of the country. Hickory residents also were rated poorly for emotional health, with survey respondents telling Gallup they felt sad or depressed more often than in almost all other metro areas. As of January, the Hickory metro area had an 11.5% unemployment rate, among the higher rates in the country. Many residents lacked the formal education necessary to work in higher paying jobs. Just 79% of residents had at least a high school diploma, and 18.2% at least a bachelor’s degree, versus 85.9% and 28.5%, nationwide.

The Hound: And many of us who are educated are screwed as well. I keep hearing this thing about how we need to be "Solutions Oriented" until it makes me want to throw up. That is just a Mantra of the status quo, because the Hound has offered up many a solution and every time those "Solution Oriented" people will give you every reason why it won't work and I have even seen people that will do everything they can to assure your failure if you get something off the ground.

Case in point is Microlending. We can continue to tell the local Powers That Be why we need a Microlending program for entrepreneurs and start-ups, but as long as you have government officials that act as roadblocks it will not happen. We can talk about the need for High Speed Fiber-Optic and competition in local Telecommunications/Media, but the Powers That Be don't feel it is in their interests, so we continue to fall behind.

You can go on and on. I have been told that we need to consolidate our local governmental web portals to streamline processes that enable entrepreneurs to get the information and fill out the necessary documents to move ventures forward. It has fallen on deaf ears.

I am not the only person with ideas. The ideas aren't my ideas, but they are ideas that I champion. What saddens me is that they can't move forward with the impediments that I have addressed and people aren't being listened to. They aren't being given the time of day by the Glad Handers.

I will be telling a story of reality soon that will put a lot of things in context. When we can minimize these sad experiences in our lives, then we will be able to move forward. The reality is that this isn't a psychological issue. It is about getting creamed by realities. When you start to address the realities, then you will start to change the mindset. You will never change the mindset until you address the realities.

Update : In March 2014 Hickory Metro 2014 - Tied for 4th Most Miserable in the United States


wandaarnold1716 said...

I agree that we need to work on the realities and do what we can to change them for the better, but do not underestimate the psychological side of the issue. As a salesperson for over 33 years, the phrase which kept us going was "fake it 'til you make it." A positive attitude can work wonders even when reality looks dim.

I read recently in the HDR about the Chamber meeting where the speaker essentially said, "Hickory is lousy at telling stories." He was saying that there are many good things about Hickory, but we never talk about them.

Every person in attendance probably could have told a good story about why Hickory is a place to choose to live, but these stories were never solicited. As a fairly new resident, I'm waiting to hear from long-time residents. What are the good things that Hickory has going for it?

James Thomas Shell said...

Yeah. the man that you speak about is Ted Abernathy and I agree with a lot of what he says. He alsoi says that we have inadequate leadership in this community and we need to desperately work on that.

I agree about having a positive attitude, especially when it is wrapped in reality. I don't believe in doing anything Fake. I don't want some guy faking it until he makes it down at McGuire Nuclear Station or some doctor faking it til he makes it doing open heart surgery or brain surgery on me, meybe you feel differently.

The facts are the facts, when it comes to these surveys that rank us at the bottom. We have a Wal_mart culture of obesity, convenience, and problem related to education and skills needed for the 21st Century.

Why do I live here? Because I was born and raised here. I remember the days when most of my family was here and we would get together on Sundays for dinner or for special occasions. I find the climate mostly tolerable. When times were good and I had some extra pocket change I'd go play golf or take a trip to the Mountains or Charlotte or a few days down to Wilmington. Hickory was great when it was a town of generational families and not transients and retirees. We were once known as one of the most balanced cities in the United States.

The good thing is that we are ground zero -- a blank slate -- for a recovery, but we are going to have to get people on board from the very top to the very bottom. We are going to have to invest in the community. Are people going to be willing to do that? Are the people who own the community going to be willing to do that, because you can't bleed blood out of the paupers.

James Thomas Shell said...

And the bottom line bout the survey. Obesity is wow off the charts. 1 out of 3 in the community are considered obese. Only 1 in 5 have a 4 year or more College degree. I would have never guessed that. Our median household income is way below the national average. We are right at $39,000 and the National average is $52,800.

When you look at that median income. To simplify, if you take look to the median as the average and factor in just one family making $100,000 and the other 9 are making the same wage, then that would lower that median to $32,000. Now think about having kids and obligations and trying to survive on that. The World keeps spinning round and round.

The survey says we rank lowest in our five year outlook. Look at the above. Look at the wage stagnation versus the inflation on necessities. Look at the news coming out about all of these mandated price increases on things such as energy and health care. And we are twiddling our thumbs as the world keeps spinning. People are wondering how they are going to make ends meet. That isn't psychology. That is reality.

Anonymous said...

Hope. There has to be hope and there isn’t any. The veneer has been stripped away and the ugly reality of what Hickory is and has been for decades is open to view.

Look back across the decades; 4, 5 or more, not just the last one. You could drop out of high school at 16. In fact, that was the big thing for many. Hit 16, get your license, get a job. Cheap labor was important to those who ran the factories. Ignorant cheap labor was even more desirable. Sure, you were ‘told’ to get an education, but staying in school wasn’t exactly encouraged and dropping out was never truly discouraged. The factory owners would hire them. It wasn’t until much later than the more progressive ones saw the benefit of at least insisting on a nominal high school education, since the ones that they were hiring by the mid-80’s couldn’t even do the unskilled labor jobs they had because they were functionally illiterate; bad for business. The politicians, the religious leaders, the schools all played a part, all had a hand in perpetuating it; fomenting a lie and a myth.

North Carolina has the lowest organized labor rate in the Nation. Now, some might consider that to be the best sentence that I’ve ever produced. Consequently North Carolina also has one of the lowest median incomes in the nation too. And when you consider that is a median number and you factor the large salaries that are located in the larger population centers…makes your eyes open just a smidge. North Carolina has always been behind on wages and benefits and while North Carolina has always been poor to pay, Hickory and Catawba County have been worse. North Carolina has been sort of the border from a more moderate and progressive northern part of the country to the agrarian antebellum south that everyone thinks of. Catawba County and the surrounding MSA embraced that and clung tenaciously to it.

So why don’t I do what I’ve been invited to do on numerous occasions and just leave? Because, the area has promise and I genuinely like many of the people. I also like to be irritating to those that think they’re better or smarter or craftier than those they look down their noses at. Those that prey on those who chose to leave school or never continued their educations and go on to make something more than what they did by believing in a lie they were told or a notion fomented in them so many years ago.

So if I can be a part of that awakening, if I can add to the growth of this region and the average people in it, then I’ve done something. And those two beliefs and the fact that I write about them is why I’m whispered about and cursed in certain circles; I’ve been around long enough to know what went on and why.

Anonymous said...

Hickory/Catawba/Unifour need to become more proactive in attracting businesses to our area. What are our officials doing so far?
Since the losses of our textile, hosiery, and furniture jobs, what has been done to encourage our young people to seek higher education? What efforts have been made to help our lower and middle income families to afford to send their kids to college? Without an educated workforce, it will be very difficult to attract good-paying jobs, and it will take quite a while to change this demographic.
As a physician who works in Hickory and Lenoir, it is obvious that, at least in this community, obesity and it's accompanying illnesses account for a very large percentage of health care costs (dare I say close to 50%?). What are our local officials doing to help and encourage a healthier lifestyle? With such an obese population, prospective employers will anticipate significantly higher health care costs. This will make it harder to recruit as well.
If our community doesn't move swiftly and surely to correct these problems we will be doomed to remain in our current economic situation for decades to come.
Kent A. Robertson, MD

Anonymous said...

Hi, Hound, I tried to post a little while ago and am uncertain whether my comments published. If so, please pick the one you like the best.
Thanks, Kent

Hickory/Catawba/Unifour need to be proactive in attracting new businesses to our community. What are our local representatives doing in this regard? This poll highlights two glaring areas that need immediate and ongoing attention if we are to attract good-paying jobs.

What are we doing to encourage higher education in our youth? Since the losses of our textile and furniture industries our lack of well educated population has become a major hurdle to attracting service/technological businesses to the area. Shouldn't we as a community be involved in the schools by participating in career days, big-brother programs, and the like? The cost of higher education has become prohibitive...Can't we form a coalition of businesses and government to make more scholarships available?

As a physician in Hickory and Lenoir, it is obvious that obesity and it's related diseases are, at least in this community, the biggest contributor to health care costs...Dare I say 50%? This, too is a major burdon to overcome when recruiting businesses to the area. They will see significantly higher health care costs here compared to other, less obese communities. What are we doing to encourage a healthier lifestyle? Somehow we have to convince our workforce that living a healthy lifestyle will not only enable them to take less medicine, feel better, and live will give them the opportunity to have better jobs and become more financially independent.

Without major changes in our philosophy of living well, our community is doomed to remain in our current situation for decades to come.

Kent Robertson, MD

Scott Bert said...

It starts with political leadership. We need a dramatic change from the status quo and right now the powers that be are perfectly happy to suck the lifeblood out of the locals. It's all about money, folks.