New Laborshed reports released

5 Apr 2022

Laborshed, Iowa Workforce Development, News Release, Press Release, Estherville, Spencer, Spirit Lake, Storm Lake, Workforce, Data

New report details regional labor pool, wages

The Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation (Corridor) and Iowa Workforce Development announced the updated “Laborshed” reports for Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson and Emmet Counties for 2022.

Conducted every three years, the “Laborshed” study provides detailed information about workforce availability, occupations, wages, benefits and commuting patterns.

Iowa Workforce Development estimates that there are 116,046 workers in the Corridor “Laborshed,” defined as the area or region from which an employment center draws its commuting workers.  The data is based on mail surveys of businesses in the region and phone call surveys of residents.

“Having current and accurate workforce data is important to existing and potential industry in the Iowa Lakes Corridor region,” said Corridor President & CEO Shannon Landauer. “In every conversation we have, workforce is a topic. It is not enough to have workforce statistics available, but the data has to be used to tell the story of business success and opportunity here in the Corridor.”

Businesses in the Iowa Lakes Corridor draw workers from as far as Sheldon in the west, Fort Dodge in the east, Windom, Minn. to the north and Denison to the south. The employed are currently commuting an average of 15 minutes one way.

Manufacturing is the largest employer industry in the region. Approximately 19,395 people (17.1 percent of the workforce) are employed in manufacturing, a six percent increase from 2019, the last year the Laborshed was conducted. In comparison, the percentage of people employed in healthcare dropped from 18.3 percent to 12.7 percent. Other major industries are wholesale & retail trade (16.4 percent of the workforce) and education (11.8 percent).

Median hourly wages range from $13.18 to $28.00, and median annual salaries from $35,000 to $73,000. Those in the finance and government & public administration industries show the highest wages while personal services and education industries have the lowest. The top current benefits of the full-time employed include paid vacation (92.8 percent), health/medical insurance (92.5 percent), and pension/retirement/401k (88.0 percent).

Among survey respondents, 7.5 percent described themselves as unemployed. This is different than the amount published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which applies a stricter definition for unemployment. 65.5 percent of these individuals are likely to accept an employment opportunity, and one in four employed people say they would be willing to change employment for the right opportunity.

“A strong workforce is a key asset to the region, especially given the current challenges businesses are faced with,” shared Landauer. “Pairing data with education and workforce programming, we can have more of an impact on the location decisions of potential businesses as well as residents looking for opportunity in the region.”

Laborshed reports for the region and the communities of Estherville, Spencer, Spirit Lake and Storm Lake are available on the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation website or by email at  

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The Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation is the regional economic development agency for Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson and Emmet counties. Its mission is to foster, encourage, aid, promote or otherwise assist in the economic growth and development of the region. For more information about the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation, call 712-264-3474 or visit