Laborshed study reveals 743K potential labor force in Quad Cities region

The Quad Cities Chamber, in partnership with Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Economic Development Authority, has completed the Quad Cities regional Laborshed employment study and industry wage characteristic reports. Conducted every two years, the study geographically defines which communities contribute to the Quad Cities’ workforce, regardless of political boundaries. This defined area is called Laborshed area and is based upon commuting patterns.

“Size and availability of workforce are two critical success factors for communities trying to recruit new businesses or help existing ones expand,” said Tami Petsche, Vice President of Economic Development for the Quad Cities Chamber. “Having an accurate snapshot of what workforce exists is extremely important to these efforts.”

The regional analysis performed for Quad Cities First, the economic development arm of the Quad Cities Chamber, is based on aggregated data from Laborshed studies for Clinton and Muscatine Counties in Iowa and Quad Cities, Iowa/Illinois, which includes Scott County in Iowa and Rock Island, Henry and Mercer Counties in Illinois.

Quad Cities Regional Laborshed Quick Facts:

  • Our total potential laborforce is 743,112.
  • 293,000 individuals are likely to change or accept employment.
  • The top five industries for employed workers include:
    • Manufacturing (16.7% - 114,064)
    • Wholesale & retail trade (15.2% - 103,819)
    • Healthcare & social services (14.3% - 97,672)
    • Education (9.3% - 63,521)
    • Professional services (8.8% - 60,106)
  • The employed who have indicated they are likely to change employment are willing to commute 26 miles/37 minutes each way for the right employment opportunity.
  • The estimated wage needed to attract two-thirds of qualified unemployed applicants is $14.07 per hour.
  • More than 77% of the employed and 65.6% of the unemployed have some post high school education. 

Laborshed studies also address underemployment, availability of labor and likeliness of the employed or not employed to change or accept employment. Other topics covered within a Laborshed analysis include: current and desired occupations, wages, hours worked, job search resources and distance willing to commute to work.

According to Iowa Workforce Development, Laborshed data is unique to other traditionally available labor market information for several reasons:

  • It is supply-side data. It is specific to the workforce characteristics of labor available specific to a defined employment center. It isn't based on employer needs or current employment level, but rather, documented labor availability.
  • Data is collected within the geography of the commuting pattern of an employment center. It is not restricted by political boundaries (county or state lines). All communities that are identified as being significant contributors to an employment center's workforce according to the documented commuting pattern are surveyed, which provides a more accurate estimate of potential labor.
  • Laborshed data is primary data collected and reported within 6 months.
  • Survey questions allow economic developers, community leaders, and employers to identify pockets of labor that are not easily identified elsewhere such as homemakers likely to re-enter the workforce, among others.
  • Laborshed data allows for granular analysis; one can look at workforce characteristics specific to those that work in a certain industry or set of occupations. This includes information regarding the estimated number, within commuting distance of the employment center, with current/past experience in an industry or occupation. This includes by job title, the wages they earn, the wages that would entice them to change positions, the benefits they receive and/or desire, how far they'd be willing to travel for a different job opportunity, what job search resources they use when looking for employment and more.

For more detailed information or industry-specific reports in the Quad Cities region, contact Tami Petsche at 563-823-2655. More information, including interactive reports by city, region or state, may also be found at

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