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Where Does Your Workforce Live and Work? Does it Matter?


The availability, skills, talents and education of an area’s workforce is becoming more and more recognized as a community’s most important asset for economic activity. Measuring and quantifying workforce availability in a laborshed from which the employment center draws its commuting workers is critical for business expansion and new business attraction. The ability to address the ongoing development and workforce needs of area employers, entrepreneurs and stakeholders can be the difference between your community becoming the bridesmaid or the bride.

Labor economists define a labor market as a geographic area in which both the demand and supply for labor are met primarily within that region. In other words, it is an area where there are jobs and the majority of workers needed for those jobs. Imbalance of the labor market, such as plant closings, can cause changes in worker flows, both into and out of the community or labor market. High skilled and talented workers tend to find opportunities faster than unskilled workers, either inside or outside of the labor market, impacting population and social change. An important first step in identifying local labor markets is to examine the commuting patterns of individuals who live or work in the area. Those patterns are one of the primary factors used by the U.S. Department of Commerce to define metropolitan and micropolitan areas.

An independent commuting worker flow survey can help define your laborshed and workforce commuting patterns based on the following characteristics; live, work, magnet or provider. Labor Market information for where workers live and work is available from the Census Block level to the city, the county, and a multi-county region, making it an important tool for businesses, developers, and planners. Clearly defining these segments of the workforce can allow you not only to understand where your workers live or work but also answer some very important questions for your area employers, entrepreneurs and stakeholders. For instance:

  • Is your community a magnet for employment or a labor force provider?

  • What are the characteristics of workers who commute in, out, and within your community or

  • regional labor market?

  • How many workers employed in a nearby city live in your community? What are the

  • characteristics of those workers?

  • Where do young workers live who are employed in your geographic area?

  • Where are the workplace destinations for workers living in your community or neighborhood?

  • How does your employment area compare in terms of worker origin patterns, worker ages,

  • monthly earnings, and industry-sector employment?

  • How is the area changing over time and among different demographics?

  • How many workers that earn more than $3,333 a month live in a certain residential area and

  • work downtown or other industry concentration?

  • How many potential employees live or work near a candidate site location?

Answering these important questions about the local resident workforce and the local employed workforce highlights the area’s unique characteristics. The key is to analyze the local workforce market for trends and indicators of past, present and future available workforce.

Corey J Mehaffy, CEO Workforce Intelligence for Growing Business

| 809 FOX RUN, MOBERLY MO 65270 | 660.353.1726

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