Availability of Skilled Workforce Critical to Corporate Site Location Analysis

A region’s workforce is a critical measure of its economic success. An examination of a community’s workforce has three distinct components: the size, unemployment rate, and education level of the workforce; the occupation and earnings of the workforce; and the commuting patterns of the workforce.  As an example, Athens County, Ohio has a labor force of 27,100 with roughly 24,800 people actively employed. This employment level is a decrease of almost 1,000 people from 2016, however there were 26,580 employed in 2016 compared to 24,800 employed in 2019. The median household income and per capita income has increased significantly as well from 2016-2019. Modest increases in the percentage of residents with a high school degree or higher, and with a bachelor’s degree or higher are positive indicators of residents obtaining the knowledge and skills needed to compete for jobs.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Ohio Labor Market Information

Corporate site location projects often require the development of a workforce study to determine the availability and costs of a region’s workforce prior to a company making an investment in the region. Key research topics for this workforce analysis include:

  • An industry cluster analysis through a Location Quotient analysis that defines the industry strength of a region as measured by its workforce occupational concentration in a chosen industry compared to a national average for that specific industry workforce occupation in three regions.
  • Unemployment Rate, Civilian Labor Participation Rate, Commuting Patterns, Population Age and Growth Rates by region, and total size of the labor force to define the pool of available labor in three regions.
  • Labor union rates and union activity in three region as measured by Labor Representations & Petition Filings from the National Labor Relations Board, with a search capability based on region or state to determine union activity in the areas of study.
  • Demographic measures for three regions as measured by Educational Attainment Levels, Poverty Rate, and Occupational Data that measures the ability of a region to provide skilled workers the company demands and potentially upskill other workers to define the workforce skills capability of a region.
  • Occupational concentration and wage rates through an Employment Location Quotient analysis to determine the ratio of the area concentration of occupational employment to the national average concentration by SOC and Annual Mean Wages of targeted occupations.
  • Potential for automation of the occupations outlined by the company to predict the numbers of workers that could be automated.
  • Remote work occupational analysis that defines the number of occupations capable of remote work and the number of remote workers a region is capable of using occupational data and adequate workforce housing and broadband services.

The availability of workforce development programs in a region will also be consider as they can assist in the development of skilled workers in a region but as the chart below illustrates regional occupational rates also are very important to a company considering a site for a corporate site location project.

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

As the chart above illustrates, the Columbus, Ohio region has a cost advantage with the workforce classification tied to the logistics industry which assists the region in competing for these jobs.  Workforce remains a critical issue for companies considering a corporate site location project consider when determining where to grow and expand operations.