The New And Improved Geography Of Jobs

October 20, 2014

By: Jeff Marcell, Senior Partner and John Karras, Consultant, TIP Strategies

We hope you will take a moment to check out our “new and improved” Geography of Jobs. In our updated version, we’ve included 372 metros* and extended the timeline back to 1999. As in the previous version, each bubble shows the net change in employment in a given metro area compared to the same period one year earlier. The diameter of each bubble reflects the size of the loss or gain. But, unlike the original Geography of Jobs, you can now place your cursor over any of the metros and watch the actual job numbers change over time . If you press the pause button, you can also move your cursor over any metro and compare actual job losses or gains at any point in the timeline. Another “behind the scenes” feature is our ability to map new datasets, such as job change by sector.

At TIP Strategies, we are always looking for ways to translate data into insights about economic development. We hope you will help us with this task by providing feedback and sharing your insights at the end of this blog post.

Map highlights:

  • The Great Recession officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, but the job losses spanned a longer timeframe, beginning early in 2007 and extending well into 2010. Some regions were hit harder than others, some were hit earlier, and some took longer to recover, but no corner of the US was spared.

  • The Dot-Com Bubble was marked by rapid job growth in some of the country’s leading high-tech regions (Silicon Valley, Boston, Seattle, Austin) in 1999 and 2000. You can then see these same regions losing lots of jobs from 2001 to 2003 during the Dot-Com bust and subsequent recession. Silicon Valley actually continued losing jobs into 2004, even while the rest of the country had come out of the recession and was gaining jobs.

  • The Housing Bubble, following the relatively mild recession that began in 2001, led to unprecedented job growth across the country. Buoyed by easy money (i.e., subprime mortgages), housing supported strong job growth in places like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Southern Florida. You will also see that these same places were the first to begin losing jobs as the housing market collapsed, starting in 2007.

  • Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans in late July 2005, a disaster that had an immediate and lingering impact on jobs in the region. However, you will notice that metros in the periphery, most notably Baton Rouge, actually saw a significant uptick in jobs during that time due to temporary (and perhaps permanent for many) outmigration from New Orleans.

  • Watching the Midwestern US, especially the manufacturing-centric states of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, reveals that many of the metro areas in these states never enjoyed the economic growth experienced by most of the country from 2003 to 2006. Red bubbles cover much of the area surrounding Detroit from 2002 all the way until the end of the Great Recession in 2010. However, the employment situation in the Midwest has taken a turn for the better in recent years thanks to the recovery of the US automotive industry beginning in 2010.

We are excited about the upgrades to the Geography of Jobs and hope you find it useful. And we would love to hear from you. Please take a moment to share your comments on how the tool did (or did not) provide any insights about your community, any regional or national trends of significance, and other datasets we should consider mapping.

Thanks for viewing.

*NOTE: Map includes the 372 MSAs for which data are available from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Regional Workforce Study Results Announced-United Way to Take Action to Address Workforce Challenges

June 24, 2015

Via: United Way of Cass-Clay

A study commissioned by five local agencies and 16 community partners lays out four areas of action that could help ease the workforce shortage in our community. The results were released this morning and the Executive Summary is available here.

Six-months of research, surveys, focus groups and in-person interviews by TIP Strategies, a consulting firm based in Austin, Texas, have culminated in a 100-page report that details the environment surrounding regional workforce and the challenges and opportunities we face recruiting, retaining and developing our workforce.

The Greater Fargo Moorhead region currently has more than 6,700 job openings, and the 11-county labor shed has more than 11,000 job openings. Within the next five years, the region is projected to have more than 30,000 openings, and the labor shed is projected to have 55,000 openings. These jobs openings include both new jobs and replacement jobs which are open due to natural turnover in the workplace.

Employers across the region are already having difficulty securing the talent they need. Some of this difficulty is consistent with challenges employers across the US are facing – the mismatch between the skills that available workers have and the skills employers need. This is known as the skills gap.

In the Fargo Moorhead region the workforce challenges are further complicated by the low unemployment rate and the high labor force participation rate. There are not enough workers in the region to fill these job openings.

The report includes a four-point framework with priority projects to tackle the region’s employment challenges. The strategic plan aims to address ways to cultivate and develop local talent, attract new talent to the region, build a strong path towards financial stability for those who need it and encourage innovation to maximize the region’s use of human capital.

The Greater Fargo-Moorhead region is an economically diverse employment center with a strong pipeline of talent to support current and future employers.


To strengthen the regional workforce system to support regional employers and to address the gap between available positions and qualified workers.

Regional Workforce Development Strategy and Framework for Action:

  • Cultivate: Strengthen the pipeline of local talent to support employers in the region.
  • Attract: Enhance and coordinate efforts to bring new talent to the region.
  • Build: Develop a framework for financial self-sufficiency and upward mobility for workers in low-wage and basic-skill jobs.
  • Innovate: Encourage the development of innovative solutions to address the region’s workforce-related challenges.
  • The five lead organizations, including United Way of Cass-Clay, will drive the implementation of the four strategies and evaluate progress strengthening our workforce system to continue to support business growth.

    The Regional Workforce Partnership & Collaboration involves the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, the Chamber, the Fargo Moorhead Area Foundation, United Way of Cass-Clay and the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    Many local companies have pledged their support as sponsors of the partnership and its efforts including:

    Sanford Health
    Minnesota State University Moorhead
    City of West Fargo
    Meinecke-Johnson Company
    Forum Communications Company
    Border States Electric
    Essentia Health
    Eide Bailly
    American Crystal Sugar
    North Dakota State University
    Industrial Builders, Inc.
    Trail King Industries, Inc.
    Moorhead Economic Development Authority
    North Dakota State College of Science
    O’Day Equipment, LLC
    Dakota Medical Foundation

    If you or a representative from your organization is interested in serving in a leadership role to implement these strategies, please contact Missy Froeber at the Greater FM Economic Development Corporation at

    PowerPoint Presentation from Regional Workforce Study Event on 6/18/15

    Regional Workforce Development Collaboration Summary

    Greater Fargo-Moorhead Regional Workforce Study EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (PDF)

    Greater Fargo-Moorhead Regional Workforce Study FULL REPORT (PDF) (104 pages)

    Study Confirms Not Enough People to Fill Jobs in F-M Metro Area

    June 20, 2015

    By: Dave Olson
    Via: Inforum

    Photo credit: Nick Wagner / The Forum

    MOORHEAD – A workforce study released Thursday confirms what many employers have been painfully aware of for some time: There aren’t enough people living in the Fargo-Moorhead area to fill available jobs.

    But the study went one step further and stated that over the next five years, at least 30,000 new job openings are expected, with close to half of those being low-paying positions that make it difficult for workers to cover the cost of child care, transportation and housing.

    “If we don’t address this problem, this issue is going to get worse and worse,” said Jim Gartin, president of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp., speaking to an audience of community leaders who gathered in Moorhead to hear highlights of the workforce study.

    The 100-page report was prepared by TIP Strategies, a consulting firm based in Austin, Texas.

    Tom Stellman, president and CEO of TIP, told the group that the Fargo-Moorhead area is at a tipping point. The community is small enough that individuals feel they can still make a difference, but large enough to be a competitor nationally when it comes to attracting a qualified workforce.

    He said the challenge becomes how to convince people to live here when many areas around the country are also striving to attract and retain workers.

    “This is a national issue,” he said.

    One thing the study highlighted is a pay gap when median wages in Fargo-Moorhead are compared to national numbers.

    Local numbers tend to lag the national figures, particularly at the high end of the wage scale, where the difference between what companies pay here and what they pay elsewhere is greater than 20 percent, Stellman said.

    Charley Johnson, president and CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau, said local employers have started raising pay, but he said the pace may be too slow to make an impact when people are deciding where they want to live and work.

    “This (pay gap) is a huge part of it,” he said.

    Some other findings of the report:

    • The number of jobs in the Fargo-Moorhead area grew by nearly 30,000 between 2004 and 2014, a 24 percent increase.
    • That compares to a 5 percent increase in the total number of jobs in the U.S. for the same period.
    • There are now about 6,700 job listings posted online in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

    Stellman said one approach to attracting more people to the area would be to embrace one of its perceived weaknesses, its northern climate.

    “Embrace the cold,” Stellman said, adding that organizing something along the lines of a communitywide winter carnival should be made a priority.

    He said current efforts that promote the Fargo area as a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurial drive should be supported and he suggested a contest could be organized that invites the public to offer ideas on how the worker shortage can be turned around.

    Gartin agreed community input will be valuable in finding solutions and he challenged those attending Thursday’s gathering to give of their time and energy.

    “This is just the beginning and we need your help,” he said.

    WIOA Offers Opportunities for Both Workforce and Economic Developers

    June 2, 2015

    By: Jeff Marcell, Senior Partner, TIP Strategies

    Image Credit: Workforce 2011 Job Fair at Blaisdell Center by Daniel Ramirez via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

    The release of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) report, Shifting Workforce Development into High Gear, signals significant changes ahead for workforce development activities. The “shift” the report refers to will be seen in full when the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) takes effect in July 2015. I am proud to say that I worked closely with the Workforce Development Council (WDC) of Seattle and King County when I led the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County before joining TIP Strategies. Our collaborative effort was included as a case study in the IEDC report, along with several other best practice examples.

    As an Executive Committee member of the Seattle WDC, I had the honor of representing the organization at the National Association of Workforce Boards’ (NAWB) annual meeting in Washington DC in March of this year. The four-day conference was held at the same time as the IEDC Federal Economic Development Forum a few miles away. The NAWB saw record attendance, a tribute to the speakers (national experts and leaders in the field of workforce development) and an indication of the interest in hearing more about WIOA.

    This is an exciting time for workforce development professionals because they have been seeking a reauthorized national workforce law to replace the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. However, it is also a time of uncertainty. Now, there is greater pressure to perform at a more advanced level than ever before.

    It is already clear that the new law will drive a cultural shift at workforce development organizations across the country. The law will require Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) to approach their work as an integral part of a larger economic system that includes the entire education system (early childcare through higher education institutions), transportation, and other areas. WIOA will require WIBs to increase their scope of “customers” to include not just job seekers but employers as well. They will have to identify, build, and maintain a larger network of relationships.

    WIOA will require WIBs to:

    • Be data driven and prepared to track and report on their work with increased specificity.
    • Consolidate with other WIBs, when appropriate, to serve local economies rather than political boundaries.
    • Understand industry sectors in their local economies and establish strategies to serve them.
    • Engage other organizations and reconfigure their boards to become more inclusive.
    • Coordinate with existing community programs including working with local economic development efforts.
    • Diligently identify their communities’ specific needs.

    One message was clear at the conference: WIBs shouldn’t delay in implementing as much of the new law as possible. It was also made clear that WIOA isn’t just a repackaged WIA; the new law features significant changes, including new partnerships at the federal level (such as the Department of Labor working more closely with other federal agencies like the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services).

    Secretary of Labor Tomas Perez was the center of attention at the NAWB conference, and he conveyed enthusiasm for the new law and its impact. Perez emphasized that the aim of the law is to scale the workforce development system by building partnerships—to serve more people and businesses through collaboration. He also stressed that the workforce development system needs to be driven by demand and acknowledge multiple paths to prosperity for young people, from 4-year colleges to 2-year degree and certificate programs.

    Under this new law, WIBs have a lot to prove and must create a larger impact than ever before. The ultimate goal is to improve the workforce development system throughout the country, not simply to implement individual workforce development programs. WIBs will have to understand the needs of businesses. To succeed, they’ll have to develop good working relationships with business leaders. This is one area where economic development professionals can help.

    If you are an economic development practitioner who hasn’t engaged your local workforce board, I strongly encourage you to offer them your assistance. Economic Development Practitioners know how businesses function and what they need. They have established relationships, and they know what drives the local economy. These are all things WIBs will need to understand under WIOA. On the flip side, Workforce Boards provide a connection to a business resource, one that is arguably more valuable than any other: the talent pipeline. Collaboration will have multiple benefits for both economic and workforce developers, not the least of which will be the unification of efforts to reach out to local businesses.

    To learn more about WIOA, reach out to your area Workforce Investment Board and visit the WIOA resource website. I welcome the opportunity to discuss WIOA and alignment of workforce development and economic development with you at any time. Feel free to reach me at

    Study: Region Must Fill 37,000 Jobs in Five Years

    May 12, 2015

    By: Derrek Asberry
    Via: Aiken Standard

    NORTH AUGUSTA ­— Employers reportedly will need to fill more than 37,000 job openings over the next five years in Aiken and four other counties in a five-county service area.

    Students in the region, however, are not choosing careers in the area’s high-demand occupations, such as welding and engineering, according to a Regional Workforce Study conducted by TIP Strategies, a Texas economic-consulting firm hired by the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization.

    Tom Stellman, the president of TIP Strategies, presented the findings Wednesday in the Palmetto Terrace room of the North Augusta Municipal Building. The 37,000 job openings, Stellman said, is a “conservative estimate” and stems from both new job creation and replacement employment.

    Breaking down the study

    The study gathered data using labor analysis and research that included roundtable discussions and interviews with local employers, economic developers, education and training providers, and by using employer surveys.

    Specifically, it examined the workforce trends in a five-county service area: Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell counties in South Carolina and Richmond and Columbia counties in Georgia.

    Collected data show that more than 50,000 workers commute into the five-county region for work each day. The region – combined with the commuter counties of McDuffie, Richmond and Burke counties in Georgia and South Carolina’s Edgefield County – creates a nine-county region that employs 400,000 people, TIP Strategies reported.

    “The workforce of the SRSCRO region is inextricably linked together,” Stellman said. “This shared labor pool is what also links our region’s employers together.”

    Concerns in the numbers

    According to the study, about 80 percent of the 37,000 job openings will be replacement jobs – employment availability because of attrition or retirement. The rest, roughly 7,600 jobs, will be new to the region.

    Rick McLeod, the executive director of the reuse organization, spoke about Aiken’s biggest employer: the Savannah River Site. McLeod said the site serves as an ongoing example of upcoming replacement jobs, stating that the average age of a site worker is 54. He added that the average age in the manufacturing sector is 48.

    “There’s going to be a lot of opportunities for transitions to occur in the next three years,” McLeod said.

    Another point Stellman mentioned is that the most popular jobs aren’t always reflected in job availability. The region graduates 7,300 students annually from 15 higher-education institutions. The most popular fields of study are nursing, liberal arts and business administration; those fields, however, don’t match the high-demand occupations, TIP Strategies wrote.

    “Bachelor’s degrees in such areas as engineering, computer science and health science are in high-demand,” Stellman said. “Students often choose their majors without this type of labor market information.”

    The new model

    TIP Strategies said the goal will be creating a more demand-driven workforce that supports recruitment and retention. That mission can be met through collecting information, holding workforce summits, connecting partners to students and job seekers and creating a marketplace that attracts younger workers.

    Todd Glover, North Augusta’s city administrator, said the city has embraced those concepts through constructing a new facility for Medac – a provider of services and products to anesthesia-related health care providers that is expected to provide more than 600 jobs.

    North Augusta also is in the process of jumping legal hurdles to move forward with Project Jackson, a proposed 25-acre development consisting of a hotel, stores and a baseball stadium for the Augusta GreenJackets that would be between The River Club and Hammond’s Ferry neighborhoods.

    “The new model is creating a place where people want to live and then find jobs, which is the opposite of what they used to do,” Glover said. “With the younger millennials, we’re trying to create a place where they would want to live and we think those industries will follow behind them.”

    Sufficient employers and employees coming and staying in the region is a top priority, said Susan Winsor, Aiken Technical College president and the chairwoman of the SRSCRO.

    “We never ever want to hear from a prospective employer that workforce availability is the reason they went elsewhere,” Winsor said. “We want to be the reason they come here. So it’s up to us to prepare our young people for the jobs of tomorrow.”

    David Jameson, the president and CEO of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, added that it’s important not to put “all of our eggs into one basket.”

    “We need to also be continuing to attract a workforce in many segments: nuclear, IT, health care and manufacturing,” he said. “We need to also make sure there’s room for advancement in these jobs and not just entry-level positions.”

    Collective problem-solving

    The way to attract that workforce, Jameson added, is by counties working together instead of competing. He said the issue is not a city-by-city or county-by-county problem. Rather, it is one that impacts each part of the region.

    “One area could have a strength that the other doesn’t have. So if we pull those strengths together and work together, we can tackle this workforce issue,” Jameson said.

    TIP Strategies made several recommendations, including working with economic development partners to implement teacher programs, events and other initiatives to bring quality employment to the forefront.

    McLeod added that the next few months will be spent working to define roles and responsibilities to implement the recommendations.

    “We’re interested in making sure we put things in place so that local citizens have an opportunity to get degrees and find quality employment here,” he said.

    Derrek Asberry is the SRS beat reporter for the Aiken Standard.

    TIP Hired To Assist With An Economic Development Action Strategy For The Minneapolis–Saint Paul Region

    December 15, 2014

    By: Caroline Alexander, Senior Consultant, TIP Strategies

    Image credit: 2008-0712-MPLS-panorama by Bobak Ha’Eri via wikimedia commons (CC BY 3.0)

    A broad-based regional partnership has hired TIP Strategies to develop the Minneapolis–Saint Paul Economic Development Action Strategy. The primary goal of this work is to create a strategy with short and medium-term actions to accelerate investment and job creation in the region’s core cities.

    Though the work will be guided by economic development principles, it will also integrate strategies with community and workforce development to ensure that market-challenged areas and lower-skilled workers also benefit.

    The project partners include Greater MSP, the City of Minneapolis, the City of Saint Paul, the Saint Paul Port Authority, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, and Minnesota Philanthropy Partners.

    The Greater Fargo-Moorhead Region Hires TIP For Workforce Strategy

    December 1, 2014

    By: Caroline Alexander, Senior Consultant, TIP Strategies

    Image Credit: Fargo by ethankan via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

    TIP Strategies was recently engaged by a regional collaborative that consists of the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, the Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation, and the United Way of Cass-Clay. The engagement will consist of a comprehensive labor study and a regional workforce strategy. With an unemployment rate of 2.5 percent, the Greater Fargo-Moorhead region faces formidable workforce challenges as their economy continues along its stable growth trajectory. The collaborative formed to undertake a regional approach to addressing these challenges. The TIP study will create the foundation for this initiative, providing information and strategic recommendations that will guide regional investments in workforce development.