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Study shows good workforce in South Mo.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

SOUTH MISSOURI -- There is an ample supply of available workers to support major new industry in most south-central Missouri counties and workers that are looking for the right employment options, are well within the competitive parameters statewide and nationally, a recently completed labor study found.

Also, employees of the 20-county area that includes Oregon County rate worker attitude and productivity above average, and the quality of workers ranks high in comparison to similar surveys conducted across the state.

The Meramec Regional Partnership study was coordinated by the Meramec Regional Planning Commission in cooperation with South Central Ozark Council of Governments, Lake Ozark Council of Governments and Laclede Electric Cooperative.

The study was funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration and the USDA Rural Development while 24 public and private partners provided matching funds to complete the study.

Growth services of Jefferson City was hired to conduct the study which covered five components: demographics, wage and benefits, employer, workforce and training/education. In all, some 56 reports make up the study, which includes an overall report on the 20-county area and four area labor market reports on each of the five components as well as county-level reports.

The purpose of the study was to determine the availability of workers and skills, labor wage rates, the degree of underemployment and the capacity of the region to provide a skilled workforce in Oregon County and the other 19 counties involved in the study. Results of the study should provide both existing and prospective employers the ability to assess their local labor market with other labor markets at state and national levels.

Some of the findings of interest from the area include:

* The area labor market has an available workforce of 115,020. Of that, it is estimated that 13,802 are unemployed and 22,447 are employed but are looking for a new employment, while 78,771 would consider changing jobs for the right opportunity;

* Of the available workforce, 37.7 percent would be interested in employment options with a wage of $8.99 per hour while 75 percent of the available workforce would be interested in a wage of $12.99 per hour;

* The area-surveyed labor market has an average wage rate of $13.55 per hour for the 62 positions surveyed compared to an average state wage of $16.42 for the same positions. This is an 18 percent competitive advantage over the state as a whole and a 22 percent over the national average;

* In the area of benefits, 91 percent of the study employers provide vacation leave, 71 percent provide some type of health insurance coverage and 55 percent offer retirement.

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