Don’t Forget the Underemployed in Your ALM Analysis
I recently wrote an article entitled We Can’t Forget the Underemployed… Can We? The premise of the article was to discuss the importance of analyzing the total available workforce in you ALM when quantifying your ability to provide quality workers for your existing businesses or those you are trying to attract to your area.
In that article I shared the following information for your consideration: A key source of good employees is the category of the underemployed, those individuals who are now working but desire a better job and who possess the skills, education and experience to qualify for better jobs.
Underemployment or underutilization of skills or experience is a significant issue in many communities and is an important element for employers assessing a community for location or expansion. According to site selection consultants, the availability of highly skilled and experienced labor is among the most important location factors for their clients.
How could your economic development efforts be enhanced if you were able to quantify the following information for your existing and prospective employers: What portion of the labor force (underemployed, unemployed, homemaker, student or retired) would seriously consider applying for a new employment opportunity? What concerns would influence their decision? (pay, benefits, commuting distance) What skills and educational attainment do the underemployed in your labor shed possess? In other words are you prepared to answer the most important questions regarding your workforce; What is it? Where is it? At what cost? And in what quantities?
Recently I was working on final review and edits for a GSG Labor Supply Certification report prior to forwarding the final product to the client. Obviously I am cautious to protect confidentiality for our client but I wanted to share some high level information with you from this report to help you better understand the tremendous impact primary research data regarding your total available workforce could have on your economic development efforts moving forward.
The primary purpose of this GSG product is to determine the number of workers available for employers considering expansions and major investments. The total available workforce represents respondents who indicate they are either looking for employment or would consider changing jobs for the right employment opportunities. The key advantage of the Labor Supply analysis is that is expands the pool of potential workers by including workers excluded from the civilian labor force (CLF). It allows researchers to examine those members of the Area Labor Market (ALM) pool who have a propensity to consider a job opportunity given their employment expectations.
For those of you who may be skeptical, let me share a few statistics to demonstrate the percentage of the overall available workforce that you may not be able to quantify currently when only considering public data from the CLF. It is entirely possible that you are missing out potential expansion and attraction projects in your area without the ability to demonstrate this significant potential workforce availability in your labor shed.
In this particular report of an ALM of over 25 counties, not dissimilar from other areas of the country, findings show that 73.7% of the total available workforce consider themselves in the worker available category while 26.3% fall into the category of non-worker available. Findings indicated that all (73.7%) those in the worker available workforce are willing to change with the right opportunity: 37.1% consider themselves underemployed, 15.1% seeking different employment and 21.4% willing to change. In the non-worker category findings once again indicated that all (26.3%) are willing to work with the right opportunity: 14.9% are currently unemployed (includes both unemployed as defined by BLS as those who are seeking employment as well as those that have given up looking but are willing to accept the right opportunity and not covered in the BLS definition), 4.1% homemaker and 7.3% retired.
The report drills deeper into these categories as well as other worker characteristics and decision indicators as referenced above to provide an in depth analysis of the area’s ALM for consideration. Why is this important? This detailed workforce data provides communities and regions with quantifiable metrics regarding their ability to supply an abundant and skilled labor force for employers. This gap between publically available data and GSG’s primary research could mean the difference between your area’s ability to provide employers with proof that the necessary quantity and quality of workers exist in your area leading to additional investment or your area’s elimination from consideration.
Corey J Mehaffy, CEO
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