Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Understanding Commuters

Before the recession hit, one company was starting to express concerns about finding enough people to fill their workforce needs.  At the same time, a company 30 miles west with similar workforce skills was going through a downsizing.  Many of those people facing layoffs lived in Licking County and commuted out of the county for work.

Seems we just had to marry them up.

Get the pool of job seekers among commuters married up with the employers seeking people.  Problem solved.

The Recession made this less necessary (would have preferred no Recession though) but the pending Baby Boomer retirements are likely to return this issue to the forefront.

Workenomics, at today's meeting, has a chance to take the first step in profiling and better understanding commuters.  If we knew more about what jobs they commute to and why and knew more about what it would take to get them to reverse their commute and take a job closer to home, then we are on our way in Licking County to solving some of our employer's workforce needs.  We also improve the quality of life of our residents.  Both good.


  1. I'm sure it depends on your field, but in the computer programming field, staying in Newark is a bad career move. I worked at 2 companies in Newark. One paid half what the expected salary should have been, gave 0-2% raises, no chance of advancement, and a bad work environment. The other paid much less than standard salary and had sporadic layoffs frequently. Both had a networked bunch of folks that didn't allow new folks into that "network".

    One of these companies was losing workers at a very rapid rate to a company in New Albany. They made a sheet showing why earning about half of what you should was a great thing, just because you didn't have to commute. As soon as word got back those who left were not only making more money, but getting promotions, the company started making some small efforts to keep some folks.

    When a group of companies in a geographic area have the reputation for being cheapskates, that's a hard thing to shake. Not having to commute should add money to the employees bottom line, not company.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Mark. I'm not sure one company experience is more than anecdotal, but I think there's a lot to learn for employers looking to hire commuters in your message.

  3. That's the problem, it's not just one company. I've worked at a few companies in town and have friends that work at many companies in town. Excusing these things as anecdotal is the problem.

    People don't commute because they want to. It's done out of necessity. When a company can't find workers locally and there are many who have the skills and choose to commute, there is a reason. Most know that those jobs are there, but they also know that they will have to take lower pay and deal with the usual problems that working in the area brings.

    Until the employers remove the assumption that they should get workers on the cheap due to their location, they're going to keep coming up short. The commute isn't that far away and the new road decreased the time.

    I've only known a few that commute the other way and they were at the very top echelons of their company. They wanted to live in New Albany, but work here. They were building a resume and they could get higher positions at lower pay here, then move on after a few years of holding that position.

    Look at this post. The only reason those workers came back to Licking County was that they were forced by the economy. That was what married them up.

    You mention that there will be empty positions as retirements occur. Many of those employers are stuck with the common reputations I mentioned. Who will want to come fill those positions?

    All that I'm saying is that if the local companies really want local employees, they have to change that reputation by acting accordingly. Anything short of that is a waste of time and effort. No catchy slogans, no advertising, no committees scratching their heads at taxpayer expense, etc.