Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Award Winner

Recipient of the 2000 Outstanding Master's Thesis Award - Second Place.

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Open Access Thesis


This thesis presents a case study approach to estimate the potential supply of available workers within a laborshed or sub-labor market area. Current labor data are not adequate to estimate the supply of labor and its characteristics in mid-sized Iowa communities. In addition, low unemployment rates are not reflective of the willingness of workers to change jobs. Estimates of underemployment are also missing from any current labor data.

The methodology for this study consisted of conducting a random survey of the potential available labor force for a mid-sized Iowa community's laborshed, defined as the nodal region from which a community draws its commuting workers. Three categories of potential workers are estimated and their characteristics are compiled in this study. The first category is current workers willing to change employment or employers under certain conditions. The second category examined is persons not currently working. This is different from unemployed persons since the category includes persons not in the labor force, including discouraged workers and homemakers. The third category of potential workers is underemployed persons. Types of underemployment estimated include persons working fewer hours than they desire, persons working full time but at insufficient wages, and persons with a mismatch of skills between their current job and their education level and training. Estimates were calculated for each of these potential labor force categories and aggregated to depict an accurate estimate of the potential available labor force and its characteristics.

The results of this study indicated that potential labor availability was considerably higher than might be reflected by the low unemployment statistics in Iowa. The labor force potentially available consists primarily of current workers eager to shift jobs and non-workers willing to enter the labor force under the right conditions. This study details the characteristics of this potential available labor force for the study area.

This research sets forth an approach that can be adapted to other mid-sized Iowa laborsheds and recommends public policy implications for pursuing additional laborshed employment studies. Labor force data are provided at a level considered most important by local development officials, and this promotes a more regional approach toward economic development.

Year of Submission


Year of Award

2000 Award


Department of Geography

First Advisor

C. Murray Austin


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1 PDF file (vii, 124 pages)



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