This article is the third in a series of blog posts intended to provide insights into the ways labor market data can benefit economic development professionals and the communities they serve. To learn about EMSI’s new software for economic developers, click here.
Economic development professionals know that most new jobs come from their existing business community. According to the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation in Wisconsin, over 50% of its clients are existing businesses. And, in many communities, the percentage of total job growth that results from business expansion is even greater.
To that end, it’s important for economic development professionals to alleviate business challenges that impede growth and profitability—and to continue to show even longstanding businesses where local workforce strengths can contribute to ongoing success. For an example of how employment data can help you do that, this article will analyze labor market data for the plastics product manufacturing industry in the Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana, metropolitan area.
In Elkhart, the stakes are high for the success of plastics manufacturing, which has already seen massive growth. Jobs in this industry have nearly doubled in the last five years (2,457 new jobs, totaling 5,342 in 2014), adding family-sustaining wages to the region ($49,200 average annual wage per job). RV manufacturing, a top employer in the region and a significant driver of this supplier’s industry growth, also benefits from the presence of local plastics manufacturers, further contributing to regional competitiveness and local economic prosperity.
Using this example, let’s explore how economic development professionals can use employment data to foster growth not only of plastics product manufacturers but also the local industries reliant on them.
Plastics manufacturers in Elkhart may require industrial production managers in order to expand. Rather than sharing information about only those managers who work in the plastics product manufacturing industry, it is more valuable for economic developers to share data on industrial production managers for all industries in the region, providing a fuller picture of the available workforce. In the case of Elkhart, nearly all industrial production managers work in some type of manufacturing, so even if workers don’t have experience specific to plastics, their skills will likely transfer easily.
Staffing patterns, which map industry data to occupation data in order to identify the occupations that make up an industry’s workforce, are key to this analysis.
In the Elkhart metro, there were just over 750 jobs for industrial production managers in 2014, and that job count grew significantly over the past five years. This occupation also earns slightly less per hour in Elkhart than the national average ($35.81 per hour rather than $37.11) and is five times more concentrated in Elkhart than in the nation.
Depending on how many industrial production managers are required for expansion, this data will indicate whether or not the local workforce can meet those needs. If it can, this information will be very encouraging.
Top 10 Occupations in Plastics Product Manufacturing (Elkhart-Goshen, IN)
Another great way to predict whether or not the local workforce can support expansion is to analyze completion data for educational programs that closely align with the occupations that businesses need to fill.
There are two degree programs in the area that align with industrial production managers: a bachelor’s degree program in business administration and management or a bachelor’s program in business and commerce. While both of these degrees could lead to a variety of occupations, many of these Elkhart-area graduates likely find jobs in manufacturing (due to the strength of the cluster in this region).
In 2013, 43 of those degrees were earned, and—although degree counts fluctuate from year to year—there is certainly a steady stream of newly qualified workers in the area.
Supply Chain Analysis
One way to alleviate challenges for local businesses is to make certain that they can get their supplies locally, often reducing production costs because materials won’t need to be transported and they can build stronger relationships suppliers in the immediate area. This strategy also strengthens your local industry clusters, gives rise to new supplying industries, and may even result in new businesses that supply your suppliers.
In the case of plastics product manufacturing in Elkhart, it’s that latter scenario that might help: plastics manufacturers are suppliers to RV manufacturers, but they need suppliers too, and those needs are not being currently fulfilled in the region (only 12% of their supply chain needs are satisfied in the region). By using labor market data to anticipate that need, economic developers have the knowledge necessary to recruit companies that could plug supply chain holes—thereby helping to foster growth.
If you’re interested in reading more about the ways labor market data can help you foster business expansion, check out our article on cluster analysis.
EMSI Developer is the latest in the line of data software provided by EMSI. Designed specifically for economic developers, it offers tools for strategic planning, recruitment, workforce analytics, and a regional dashboard—along with national data at the county and ZIP code levels. For more information, click here. Or, to schedule a demo, please contact us.