The Iowa Workforce Development recently released the annual Workforce and Economic Development Regional Status Report, showing how nine Central Iowa counties fare economically stacked next to one another. Warren County is among this group, which also includes the counties Boone, Dallas, Jasper, Madison, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, Story.
So what can we glean from this report? Quite a bit.
- Population Growth - Warren County's population growth rate from 2012-2013 (0.87%) ranked third, behind Dallas and Polk, but ahead of Story.
- Net Migration - Warren County's population net migration (i.e. – people moving to Warren County) ranked third in 2012, behind Story and Polk, but ahead of Dallas. This means that there were 1,325 more people who moved to Warren County than left.
- Employment Growth - Warren County’s non-farm employment growth (5.5%) ranked second from 2008-2013, behind only Dallas.
- Relatively Young Population – The average age of Warren County’s population is 38.5 years of age. Only Story, Dallas, and Polk have a lower average age.
- Health Care Reliance - Warren County is more reliant upon the 'Health Care' industry for jobs than the other eight counties, carrying a 16.3 percent employment share. Warren County’s largest industry for employment is ‘Retail Trade’, which is the case for several counties.
- High Income - Warren County has the second highest median household income at $63,310, only behind Dallas. This statistic counts all households which receive an income from sources inside and/or outside of Warren County.
- Low Labor Costs - Warren County's labor costs are third lowest among the nine counties with an average weekly wage of $657. This figure relates to jobs located within Warren County.
- Long Commutes – Warren County residents have the second longest work commute at 25.3 minute average. Madison County residents have a longer commute with a 27 minute average.
- Math Proficient - Warren County 8th graders have a math proficiency of 83.7% which is second highest among the nine counties, just behind Poweshiek.
The data provides important conclusions related to economic development in Warren County. The data supports the common thinking that Warren County has high-performing schools, and in particular, is a model for STEM-related initiatives attempting to get students excited about the possibilities in applied science and mathematics.
Second, the resident population is securing good paying jobs around Central Iowa; however, many residents need to commute longer distances for their employment.
Finally, there is great future opportunity for expanding businesses or new employers to move into Warren County. Commuting costs cut into wages and many residents might desire to spend less time on the road in exchange for a higher quality of life of being closer to home in daytime hours.
Bottom line, Warren County is growing! Cheers! The key for all of us now is to decide together how we can capitalize on our strengths to create opportunities for the current and future generations of Warren County residents.
More information from the report can be found at http://www.iowaworkforce.org/lmi/labsur/status_reports/Status%20Report_Region9online.pdf.