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Understanding our economic profile is important to the economic development of Hancock County. Why? Because having hard data improves decision making for individuals, entrepreneurs, small business owners, companies, and communities with regard to plans for the future. When planning for economic development, the goal is to create and maintain a strong, vibrant local economy and our profile helps to identify more specific strategies, projects and programs that are needed to achieve that goal.

Hancock County currently has a fairly strong economic profile overall. Based on recent data from JobsEQ®, http://www.chmuraecon.com/jobseq, the following highlights show that Hancock County has much to be proud of, but there are still significant opportunities for improvement and growth.

Demographically speaking, the population in Hancock County, Iowa was 11,006 per an American Community Survey for 2012-2016. The region has a civilian labor force of 5,670 with a participation rate of 64.4%. As of the 4th quarter, 2017, total employment for Hancock County, Iowa was 7,451 (based on a four-quarter moving average) and at year end employment declined 1.3% in the region.

Even though employment declined, our unemployment rate got better. The seasonally adjusted rate for Hancock County, Iowa was only 2.6% as of March 2018. This was lower than the national rate of 4.0%. If you compare the rate from one year earlier, in February 2017, the unemployment rate in Hancock County, Iowa was 3.1% which shows we continue to move in a positive direction.

Wage trends for the county are mixed. The average worker earned annual wages of $44,574 at the end of 2017, which is an increase of 2.5% in the region during the preceding four quarters. For comparison purposes, annual average wages were $54,343 in the nation as of the 4th Quarter, 2017. Interestingly, this amount is similar to the median household income in Hancock County, Iowa which is only $54,813.

Next, consider our cost of living index. This index estimates the relative price levels for consumer goods and services. When applied to wages and salaries, the result is a measure of relative purchasing power. The cost of living is 14.3% lower in Hancock County, Iowa than the U.S. average, so that does help balance the scales a bit with regard to annual wages and median household incomes. Median home value is also $95,500.00 compared to the U.S. median home value of $206,300 as of December 2017.

Expected growth rates for occupations vary by the education and training required. While all employment in Hancock County, Iowa is projected to contract 0.4% over the next ten years, occupations typically requiring a postgraduate degree are expected to grow 0.2% per year, those requiring a bachelor’s degree are forecast to contract 0.1% per year, and occupations typically needing a 2-year degree or certificate are expected to grow 0.3% per year. Of individuals aged 25 to 64 in Hancock County, Iowa, 21.3% have a bachelor’s degree or higher which compares with 31.8% in the nation.

So, after reviewing the data the question becomes, “What should we focus on next to strengthen our local economy?”. The Hancock County Economic Development Corporation looks at market needs, changes, threats and works with our businesses and partners to find opportunities. Our main opportunity will be continueing to use our resources to Marketing Hancock County as a great place to live and work, workforce recruitment and attaction and business expansion and recruitment will be top three goals. To learn more please contact www.hancockcountyiowa.com or www.gotjobs.work.

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Regional Editor

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