CSR Conducts Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Workforce Study

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Official County Press Release:

Announcing upcoming telephone interview survey of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Workforce

WINCHESTER, Va. - Northern Shenandoah Valley Economic Development Partners in Clarke County, Shenandoah County, and Winchester-Frederick County plus Lord Fairfax Community College’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education, Shenandoah University’s School of Continuing Education, and the Winchester-Frederick County Chamber of Commerce are hoping to gain a better understanding of the area’s working population and commuting patterns through a Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Workforce Study.

The Northern Shenandoah Valley is fortunate to have a diverse job market; it is attractive to both businesses and job seekers, and this study aims at providing detailed occupational, educational level and work location preference of our region’s labor force to support our competitive marketability to other competing areas for business retention and new business location needs.

The study will commence on Monday, June 2 with telephone survey interviews of randomly selected households within the study area (City of Winchester and Clarke, Shenandoah and Frederick Counties and the town’s with-in those counties). Special questions will focus on employment patterns and, in particular, the characteristics of commuters. The work will be performed under contract by the Center for Survey Research at the University of Virginia.

Survey interview questions will center on four key issues, they are: current occupation, highest level of education completed, patterns commuting to place of employment, and preferences to continue or discontinue commuting. This study defines a “commuter” as a person who lives in the City of Winchester or Clarke, Shenandoah or Frederick Counties, who works at a location outside the study area, and whose journey to work one-way takes at least 30 minutes. The survey results will be divided into two parts. The first part will be devoted to respondents who are commuters, and the second part will show details for all workers – both commuters and local workers.

Out-bound commuters are a group of great interest to economic developers because many current commuters are considered a potential labor supply for new and expanding businesses in the area. For example, according to 2000 US Census data, slightly more than 25% of our Winchester-Frederick County’s working population commutes, which are a promising workforce for businesses interested in expansion or location in the region especially considering our current low unemployment figures. The US Census provides outstanding essential demographic and economic information; however, several critical data gaps exist which economic development practitioners could utilize in their business development efforts. Several examples include, identifying an employee’s commuting preference and why they commute. In addition, the survey will allow cross-referencing of various demographic and economic information, not currently feasible with Census data.

UVA’s Center for Survey Research will be calling across the region to conduct the 10-minute telephone survey and expects to reach over 7,000 individuals within the study area. The calls will be carried out over a two week period, from June 2 to June 18, with calling times between: Sunday - Thursday (6:00 pm - 9:00 pm) or Sunday afternoons (2:00 pm - 5:00 pm).

Economic development and education partners hope to garner a better understanding of the local population, especially perceptions about commuting and the possibility of current commuters accepting suitable jobs locally. The survey is sponsored in partnership by the Clarke County Economic Development office, Shenandoah County Economic Development and Tourism Department, Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission, Lord Fairfax Community College’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education, Shenandoah University’s School of Continuing Education, and the Winchester - Frederick County Chamber of Commerce.

Press Release Contact: Karen Helm, 540-665-0973
Reference: Economic Development Organizations listed at end of Press Release
For more information about the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Workforce Study contact your local economic development office, or Patrick Barker, executive director of Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission at 540-665-0973.