By John Settle
It’s never fun to read about one’s home town in the national media in a negative way. If you are a reader of USA Today, the Tuesday (March 25) edition is a paper to toss; a column listed the top 10 cities for “overall well-being”, and there was Shreveport-Bossier listed at 182.
The 2013 Gallup-Healthways ratings are based on more than 500,000 interviews in which people were asked about their emotional and physical health, job satisfaction, community safety, and access to food, shelter and health care. This is the sixth year of the survey, and for the second time the Provo Utah area was first; others in the top five included Boulder Colorado, Fort Collins Colorado, Honolulu Hawaii, and San Jose California. The five worst cities were Huntington/Ashland West Virginia/Ohio, Charleston West Virginia, Redding California, Spartanburg South Carolina, and Hickory North Carolina.
Gallup, Inc. is a research-based, global performance management consulting company. Founded by George Gallup in 1935, the company is famous for its public opinion polls which are conducted in the United States and other countries. Gallup works with major businesses and organizations around the world providing data driven news, daily tracking and public opinion research.
Healthways is a well-being company founded in 1981 headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee. Healthways provides health plan services for hospitals, employers, and health care clients. Healthways touts itself as a global well-being company, dedicated to making the world a healthier place – one person at a time.
Gallup-Healthways (GH) defines “well-being” as how “people think about and experience their lives.” The GH report notes that unemployment, gross domestic product (gdp) and health statitistics are important, but not adequate in optimizing change because they reflect the past. GH believe that people make many decisions on what they experience directly today – and that leaders should know this to have a better understanding of how their decisions today impact the future.
GH reports that over the six years of their well-being measurement, American’s life evaluations have improved, emotional health and health behaviors have remained stable, and that basic access, physical health and work environment have declined. Three prominent trends that were considered are the annual decreases in the rate of those with health insurance, rising rates of obesity, and declining work environment scores due to a weak labor market.
For those who like to keep score, the survey sample size for Shreveport-Bossier was 746. The report indicates, with a 95% confidence, the sampling error is plus or minus .3% points. By ranking, Louisiana was 41 out of 50 states.
The $64 question is what, if anything, this poll means to local government bodies, Shreveport-Bossier citizens, and employers seeking to expand and/or relocate to the area. GH emphasizes that local leadership,– politicians, corporate executives, clergy, school principals, and community activists – is important to engendering feelings of well-being among residents. GH believes increasing citizens’ well-being yields a competitive advantage for economic development and job creation, and it lowers disease burden and healthcare costs. Thus, for employers, this would mean greater productivity and lower costs in the workforce, and better business performance.
If nothing else, the GH poll should add some tempering of what many perceive to be the “too good to be true” economic news local leaders have been touting in recent months. Hopefully the report will not dampen future economic development for Shreveport-Bossier – and provide some insight to all local leaders.