The state’s Workforce Development agency conducts routine studies to determine how many working-age residents may be in a particular area and there’s one underway in northwest Iowa.

Estherville Area Partnership for Growth director Lyle Hevern says it’s a useful tool for developers as well as existing and prospective employers.

“It can help them make informed expansion decisions or site selection decisions and to maintain or recruit a high-quality workforce for them,” he says.

State officials are sending letters to business owners in the Iowa Great Lakes region, asking them to identify the zip codes where their employees live.

“Then based on that zip code, they’ll be able to identify the ‘laborshed’ area Estherville draws its workers from,” Hevern says.

The information, for example, will show how far people in the area commuting for work. The study will also examine how willing people are to change jobs and the average wage in the so-called “laborshed.”

(By Ed Funston, KILR, Estherville)