Ask local residents what concerns them most about living in Utah County and you're likely to get the same answer: low wages.

Depressed wages, according to a United Way study that assesses human needs in Utah County, tops a list of 44 concerns respondents were asked to rank. To gather information, United Way conducted 400 telephone interviews, 100 interviews with individuals who use some form of human services, 25 interviews with community leaders and several interviews with focus groups comprising human-service providers.After depressed wages, top concerns countywide are unemployment, affordable medical care, youths' drug and alcohol abuse, and the need to upgrade jobs skills.

"The next set of problems identified in the community survey included adult crimes, affordable housing, adolescent behavior problems, home health care for the elderly and handicapped, spouse abuse, stress counseling, high school dropouts, rape, counseling for better parent and youth relationships, and mental illness problems in general," the study says.

"For the most part, the individuals in each geographic location (city in Utah County) identified the same problems but in a different order. However, all the respondents identified depressed wages as the No. 1 problem. Also, individuals in each area selected economic issues and unemployment as a top 10 concern. . . ."

Concerns expressed by residents at large differed from those identified by human-service providers.

"The individuals who are involved in the delivery of human services in Utah County identify substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, child protective services, delinquency prevention services for youths and affordable medical care as their top five concerns," the study says.

Pleasant Grove residents expressed more concern than other cities about teenage problems and unsupervised youths. But Spanish Fork and Springville residents also listed juvenile delinquency as a problem.

Spanish Fork, Springville and Lehi residents are more concerned about adult abuse of alcohol and drugs than are residents of other county cities.

"Orem residents identified child behavior as a concern, though residents of no other geographic area identified this as a top 10 concern," the study says. "Lehi residents expressed three concerns not identified by respondents in any other geographic location: unsupervised children, the need for financial aid and the problem with housing."

Lehi residents ranked child abuse 15th out of the list of 44 problems.

"Legal aid was an issue identified primarily by individuals living in Orem. The need for better nursing home care was identified as a concern by residents of Lehi, American Fork and Lindon," the study found

Provo residents were the only county residents to list depression as a top 10 concern.

"All respondents were least concerned about affordable day care for children, the need for foster homes, teenage and adult suicide, family-planning counseling, transient needs, the need for better language skills and inability to read, or housing for the mentally ill," the study says.

Lindon and American Fork respondents said they are least concerned about spouse abuse problems, while Lehi residents are least concerned about teenage-mother needs and the handicapped. Rape was least often identified as a problem by Lindon, American Fork and Lehi residents.

"Provo and Orem individuals ranked adult day care lower than did any of the other geographic areas, while those in Provo, Orem, Springville and Spanish Fork identified disaster relief as one of their lesser concerns."

United Way's survey of top 10 problems

1. Depressed wages

2. Unemployment

3. Affordable medical care

4. Youths' drug and alcohol abuse

5. Need to upgrade job skills

6. Help to upgrade job to match skills

7. Teenage pregnancy

8. Conflict between parents and youths

9. Unsupervised youths

10. Affordable nursing home care