Lamesa’s Workforce Commute

LED News, Press Reporter Article Leave a Comment

A community’s local workforce profile should be one of its strongest assets and marketability indicators. Businesses of all stripes are very interested in both thequantity and quality of the local labor pool when prospecting sites in which to locate their operations.

“There is a huge need to create quality, local jobs when approximately 2,841 people (56.1% of our workforce) leave the City to find work, most of them traveling more than 50 miles to do so.”
Communities that choose not to attend to this critical building block of their economies will find it increasingly difficult to locate quality employers as the quantity and quality of its labor force erode over time.

A community’s workforce is a pipeline that begins in the privacy of the home, runs the length of the K-12 school years, branches into the post-secondary and trade certification options, then merges again to empty out into a Local Labor Demand Pool.

That is an oversimplification of the process but it highlights the importance of education in a community’s effort to create sustainable employment options for its children, both in terms of labor supply and employer demand.

In order to understand its workforce positioning and begin marketing efforts, Lamesa Economic Development recently conducted a high-level labor analysis using 2014 U.S. Census Bureau data (the latest data available). The results were enlightening are available in a report on our new website at on the Labor page.

First off, you should know some current information. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Lamesa Micropolitan Area workforce is 4,723 and unemployment is 4.3% as of February.

Here are three of the most interesting findings:

1. According to On the Map (U.S. Census Bureau), there were 3,856 jobs available in the City limits in 2014. Lamesans absorbed 2,220 of those jobs and 1,636 jobs were absorbed by people commuting a variety of distances to get here.

Interestingly though, Lamesa’s workforce was employed at a total 5,061 jobs.

Here is the shocker: 2,220 of those jobs (43.9%) were located in the City limits and 2,841 (56.1%) jobs were located outside the City limits.

Lamesa imported 1,212 workers who traveled more than 50 miles to get here. Most of these workers came from a northern direction (probably the Lubbock MSA). I will not speculate here where or what these 1,212 jobs were, but I’d imagine these jobs were needed to make up for those leaving the community (see next point).

2. Of the 2,841 Lamesans employed outside of the City limits, 2,251 of them traveled more than 50 miles to go to work, and they mostly traveled south (Midland/Odessa/Big Spring) and to the east to get there.

So not only were there more Lamesans leaving the City than staying in it to work in 2014, but 44.5% of the working population traveled more than 50 miles every day to do so.

3. I know what everyone is thinking: Oil impacted those commuting numbers. LED ran another analysis using the same tool to determine the types industry to which Lamesans were commuting to find work.

“Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction” and “Transportation and Warehousing” only represented a combined 9.4% of the 2,841 jobs Lamesans took outside of City limits. In fact, the industry types were diverse and had the highest concentration in “Retail Trade” (21.6%).

LED is still researching, but we conclude that not everyone left Lamesa to make the “big bucks” in the oilfields. They left because they had to.

There is a huge need to create quality, local jobs when approximately 2,841 people (56.1% of our workforce) leave the City to find work, most of them traveling more than 50 miles to do so.

LED will be working hard to bring jobs back to the community and help entrepreneurs create their own safety nets. We hope the community will join us. I know it sounds cliché, but together we can make a difference.

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