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Shedding light on the labor pool

By Staff | Jul 9, 2010

Forty-eight percent of potential job seekers in the Rugby region said they would consider a different line of work if they could earn more money, according to a recently-complete labor availability study of Rugby and the surrounding area.

That statistic certainly will draw attention to current employers and potentially new ones in assessing their current and future workforce needs.

While 48 percent listed an increase in pay as a reason to consider another job; improvement in work conditions, more career advancement, increase in benefits and underutilized skills were other reasons listed.

Just over 1,200 households in the region took part in the study this past winter through a partnership with the Rugby Area Job Development Authority and Department of Commerce’s division of workforce development.

Brenda Foster, executive director, said it’s the first time a comprehensive labor survey was conducted in the Rugby area.

“This information will prove valuable for the JDA and existing and potential new businesses in determining where job seekers are located and what they are looking for in terms of employment opportunities,’ Foster said.

The area including and surrounding the Rugby Labor Market Area exists a potential labor force of about 19,000, or approximately 61 percent of the adult population. A vast majority are currently employed, but would be willing to consider alternative jobs.

About 40 percent of the employees work in either the health care or education field. Sixteen percent work in retail trade and 10 percent are in public administration.

Just just three percent are in manufacturing, and that’s certainly a employment sector JDA officials would like to see developed.

While the study revealed Rugby’s current and potential employment pool centers around the city and the northern tier of the county, a vast majority reside north of the county line in Rolette and portions of eastern Bottineau counties.

Perhaps it’s not too surprising since the region’s population is highest in those areas. However, it gives employers an idea of where to concentrate their recruitment efforts.

Employees do commute from McHenry, Ward and Benson counties as well, but not as high a number.

The survey showed that 44 percent of job seekers are willing to commute 31 miles away or further to work.

A potential job seeker was defined as one who is currently unemployed; planning to seek a job in the next year; currently working, but willing to change jobs or take on additional jobs; or one is not looking for work.

The study revealed that about 95 percent of job seekers have at least a high school diploma and 30 percent have at least a college degree. Nearly 70 percent indicated they have above average computer skills. And past introductory computer classes offered by the JDA in partnership with Women in Business and the Center For Technology and Business played a big part in providing those skills, Foster said.

While the statistics don’t provide a complete picture of the labor availability landscape, it does give a lot to go on for the job authority and businesses to proceed in the future.

“It’s a good starting point, and we’re looking forward to sharing this data,’ Foster said. “And the JDA appreciates those area residents who took time to participate in the survey. Their input helps the region get a good handle on our labor pool.”

The complete survey will soon be uploaded onto the JDA’s website.

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