Although some of the names have changed, MP, Henry County rank high in industry
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
For a period in the final two plus decades of the 20th century, Mt. Pleasant was the envy of Iowa.
Largely through the efforts of the late Ernie Hayes and several others, Mt. Pleasant became a magnet for economic development.
There was Motorola, Bluebird, Vega Industries, Alaniz, Metromail, Mitchell Engineering, Goodyear, MackayMitchell and other front-line industries who chose Mt. Pleasant as their home.
Times have changed, some of the aforementioned have gone, others have changed names, but Mt. Pleasant still remains as one of Iowa’s economic development success stories. City officials are proud and quick to point out that the city ranks in the top five in the state in per-capita industrial/manufacturing jobs.
According to the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Alliance, Henry County’s 13 leading employers are all in Mt. Pleasant.
Walmart Distribution leads the way with 600 full-time employees, nudging Alaniz MetroGroup by 50 full-time employees for the top spot.
Rounding out the “top 12” are (full-time employees listed first followed by part-time employees if listed):
West Liberty Foods, 448; Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility, 397; Mt. Pleasant Community School District, 325;
Henry County Health Center, 245; Veyance Technologies, 250; MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 184;
Hearth & Home Technologies, 175; Walmart Supercenter, 123, 125; Lomont Molding, 122, 123; Iowa Wesleyan College, 122, 41; Nypro Kanaak Iowa, 98.
The Mt. Pleasant Area Development Commission (MPADC), which serves all of Henry County, notes that the county boasts 10,265 jobs and there is a potential labor force of 166,615 for Henry County jobs (potential work force numbers according to Iowa Workforce Development). Workforce development also says 30,995 workers are willing to accept jobs in Henry County.
MPADC lists 1,567 businesses in the county with a 0.52 employee/residential population ratio. Unemployment in Henry County was 5.8 percent in February 2014, according to Iowa Workforce Development.
Mt. Pleasant recently updated its laborshed analysis, a valuable economic development tool. The analysis said that people are willing to commute 26 miles one way for employment opportunities in Mt. Pleasant ands Henry County.
By definition, a laborshed is an area or region from which an employment center draws its community workers. To determine the approximate boundaries of the Mt. Pleasant laborshed area, local employers supplied the ZIP code listings of where each of their employees reside.
The laborshed analysis addresses underemployment, the availability and willingness of current and prospective employees to change employment within the workforce, current and desired occupations, wages, hours worked and distance willing to commute.
Some 78.8 percent of the survey respondents said they are currently sharing the costs of health/medical insurance premiums with their employer. Another 13.8 percent indicate that their employer paid the entire costs of insurance premiums.
Benefits offered by local employer follow (percentage of employers offering the benefit are listed behind the benefit).
Health/medical insurance, 93.2 percent; pension/retirement, 78.7 percent; paid vacation, 74 percent; dental coverage, 70.2 percent; paid holidays, 57.5 percent;
Paid sick leave, 54.5 percent; vision coverage, 54.5 percent; disability insurance, 53.2 percent; life insurance, 51.5 percent.
Nearly 26 percent of those currently employed were willing to change employment or accept new employment.
Of the survey respondents, 75.6 were employed, 9.9 unemployed, 4 percent voluntarily not employed and not retired and 10.5 percent were retired.
A snapshot of those employed in Mt. Pleasant and willing to change or accept new employment reveals:
• 13.9 percent are working multiple jobs;
• Currently working an average of 42 hours per week;
• Average age is 48 years old;
• 35.4 percent were currently working within the production, construction and material handling occupational category, followed by 30.4 percent within the professional, paraprofessional and technical occupational category;
• Most frequently identified job search sources were as follows: Internet, 83.8 percent; local newspaper, 41.9 percent; networking through friends, family and acquaintances, 17.6 percent; local IowaWorks Centers, 14.9 percent.
As far as job search options by the unemployed, 59.1 percent they use the Internet, 50 percent use the local newspaper, 40.9 percent consult local IowaWorks Centers, 18.2 percent use networking and 9.1 percent use private employment services.
Underemployed are classified as individuals working fewer than 35 hours per week but desiring more hours, working at wages equal to or less than the national poverty level, and/or working in positions that do not meet their skill or education levels, or worked for higher wages at previous employment.
Some 2.5 percent of the underemployed claimed in adequate skills, 5.9 percent said there is a mismatch of skills and 1.2 percent cited low income.
Finally, an estimated 1,210 unemployed individuals are willing to accept employment.
Statistics of the unemployed include:
• Average age is 50;
• 59.1 percent are female, 40.9 percent are male;
• 59.1 percent have an education beyond high school, 13.6 have an associate degree, 18.2 percent have an undergraduate degree and 4.5 percent have a postgraduate/professional degree;
• Estimated range to attract the upper 66-75 percent of qualified hourly applicants is $11.76 to $15.38 an hour with a median of the lowest wage of $10 an hour;
• Willing to commute an average of 22 miles one way for the right opportunity;
• 81.8 percent expressed interest in seasonal and 72.7 percent in temporary employment opportunities;
• 50 percent expressed interest in working varied shifts (second, third and split);
• Benefits preferred include: health/medical insurance, 85 percent; paid vacation, 65 percent; dental coverage, 55 percent; pension/retirement opportunities, 40 percent; paid sick leave, 35 percent; vision coverage, 35 percent; disability insurance, 30 percent; life insurance, 30 percent; prescription drug coverage, 25 percent; paid holidays, 15 percent; company car, 5 percent.
• 64.3 percent indicated they prefer employment opportunities where the employer and employee share the cost of medical insurance premiums.