Laborshed Study Indicates Economic Potential of Carroll County

30 Sep 2020

According to the most recent Iowa Laborshed Study, Carroll County presents a strong base for businesses seeking to strengthen or establish operations there. Estimates by Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) indicate over 9,000 individuals are likely to accept or change employment for opportunities within Carroll County. The full Laborshed Study can be viewed at

“Since 2000, Iowa Workforce Development’s Laborshed Study has been a unique and effective economic development, workforce recruitment tool,” said Ryan Murphy, Bureau Chief in the Labor Market Information Division of Iowa Workforce Development. “Communities and employers throughout Iowa use it to expand their existing businesses, attract prospective employees, retain a high quality workforce and make data-driven decisions.”  

Unlike typical labor market data, a Laborshed Study analyzes a community’s labor supply based upon employment commuting patterns regardless of jurisdictional boundaries. These commuting patterns are determined through ZIP code data provided by community employers which allows IWD to identify a community’s true labor market area, in terms of distance, labor force size and characteristics. The workforce characteristics of this commuting area, or Laborshed area, are then gathered through a phone and online survey covering numerous workforce topics such as employment status, likeliness to change or accept employment, industries, occupations, wages, benefits, job search resources, education, commuting and many others. The results of this survey allow employers to better understand their community’s labor force including where and how to attract area residents who are not currently employed or are likely to change their current employment situation.

mapsWorkforce Size & Commuting Pattern

Data for this Laborshed Study came from the last half of 2019 and early 2020. The total population within the 18-64 age group in the Carroll Laborshed Area is 52,081, with an estimated total labor force of 46,570. Of that workforce, 59.5% live and work in Carroll, 40.5% live outside of Carroll and commute in, while 84.6% of the workforce live within 24 miles of Carroll. The geographic reach of the area is 67 miles North-to-South and 81 miles West-to-East, with the furthest distance commuters would travel being 53 miles, with the commuter concentration illustrated in the map below.

On average, employed individuals currently travel 11 miles and 14 minutes one-way daily. Of that group, those employed but likely to change currently travel 10 miles and 14 minutes but are willing to travel 26 miles and 32 minutes. Those unemployed and likely to accept employment are willing to commute up to 24 miles and 32 minutes. 

Outcommuting is an estimate of the percent of residents living in Carroll but commute to employment located in other communities. The estimate for Carroll is 13.7% or approximately 748 people, with the largest percentage heading to Coon Rapids. About 50 of these workers are likely to change their employment. Hourly workers make up 50% of the outcommuters group, earn a median hourly wage of $18/hr, while 42.9% are salaried, earning a yearly median salary of $52,000.

Workforce Demographics

Characteristics of the workforce include age, gender and education. Employed and unemployed respondents for the Carroll area are illustrated in the tables below. Of the employed workers, 80% have some sort of education beyond high school, with a similar percentage in those employed and likely to change. That number drops to 63% for those unemployed but likely to accept employment.


Likeliness to Change Employment

Data provided by local employers to define the Carroll Laborshed area is also used to inform a statistical model which provides an estimate of the number of individuals, per community within the Laborshed area, who would consider changing their current employment situation or re-entering the workforce for a job opportunity in Carroll. The communities with the highest estimated number of individuals likely to consider working in the area are Carroll with 2,832 persons, Denison with 1,636 and Jefferson with 956. 

employmentThe number of employed and likely to change is approximately 10,000 workers and their top reasons for making that change were 40.9% for better wages, 27.3% better benefits and 22.7% for better hours. Of the 10.1% who identify as unemployed, two-thirds, or about 3,500 workers responded they are likely to accept an employment offer. Reasons for being unemployed but likely to accept employment include health or disability issues (40%), furthering education (18%) and employer layoff (13%).

wagesThe Laborshed Study program is managed by the Labor Market Information Division at Iowa Workforce Development in partnership with the Iowa Economic Development Authority. To learn more about Iowa’s Laborshed Study program, please visit, or call Ryan Murphy (515-281-7505)/Katie Lippold (515-281-3035).