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Laborshed study

BUCHANAN COUNTY, IA – How important is manufacturing in Iowa and Buchanan County? Manufacturing is the largest single economic sector in Iowa, representing 18.4% of Iowa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and ranking eighth in the nation for percentage of GDP.

It is also the main economic driver for Buchanan County and the Cedar Valley region. While nearly 14% of Iowa’s workforce is employed in advanced manufacturing, in Buchanan County that number jumps to almost 23% of the county’s workforce.

Having a readily available workforce is essential for the advancement of Buchanan County’s manufacturing industries. Recently, Buchanan County Economic Development had a laborshed study completed which breaks down the labor market in our area by industry sectors. The laborshed area is within a 50-mile radius of Independence.

The Advanced Manufacturing Laborshed study provides valuable information about Buchanan County and the Cedar Valley region in such categories as estimated available labor per occupational category, where those with the necessary skills needed by industries are located in regard to Buchanan County, and how far they are willing to drive for a job as well as the salary range per occupation (including beginning, median, and experienced wage levels).

It is estimated that there is a total of 52,009 people in the Buchanan County laborshed area with a skillset specific to manufacturing jobs. Workers who have the transferable experience/skills in the industry are currently commuting an average of 15 miles one way to work. Those who are likely to change/accept employment are willing to commute an average of 28 miles one way. It also shows that health insurance, the #1 benefit employees in this area desire, is the #1 benefit that Buchanan County manufacturing employers provide.

For example, entry-level wages for a welder are almost $15 per hour. An experienced welder can expect to earn more than $20 per hour.

These examples touch on the incredible amount of valuable information that is in the Advanced Manufacturing Laborshed Study, which can be found by visiting the BCEDC website at and going to Buchanan County Laborshed Study & Workforce Data.