Friday, April 29, 2011

Turning Labor Shed Mapping On Its Ear

This is an example of a labor shed map. Labor shed maps attempt to predict from where 85% of the labor force for a particular labor market and a particular workforce skill will likely be drawn.

The maps are based on the premise that where people commute to and from today will match where they would commute to and from in the future.

The one above was in a site location consultant's presentation in October 2007 to a statewide economic development conference in Ohio.

Some labor shed maps, given as many as 44,000 people commute out of Licking County every day, can hurt economic development efforts here for a variety of reasons. And economic development people may not, even, see this sort of map until after a deal is lost.

The recent Workenomics commuter research project findings, thus, have a hidden value.

The survey showed that 94% of commuters would consider looking for work closer to home.

That sends a body blow to labor shed mapping. It really puts the whole premise on its ear.

The survey found that the right circumstances--matching job opportunities coupled with high gas prices--would cause the labor draw area to change in favor of Licking County-based employers.

And those right circumstances are starting to play out.

Jobs creators are creating jobs.  Job opportunities in Licking County are on the way up with expanding companies, a recovering economy, shrinking unemployment, and a soon-to-hit boom of potential retirees when the Class of '65 turns 65 next year.

Job seekers are seeking jobs. Gas prices, as I type this, just hit $4.16 a gallon in Licking County. Gas prices at that level, the survey showed, could cause 43% of commuters to start looking for work closer to home and, at $5, could cause 56% to become active, Licking County job seekers.

Time to re-do those labor shed maps.

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