Laborshed Studies

A Laborshed study was completed in December 2021 for the Buchanan County Economic Development Commission (BCEDC) by Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) in cooperation with the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). The completed report addresses the workforce characteristics of the Buchanan County Laborshed area; which includes a potential labor force of 219,949. A Laborshed is an area or region from which an employment center draws its commuting workers. To determine the approximate boundaries of a Laborshed area, local employers supplied residential ZIP codes of each of their employees. Laborshed studies will be updated every two years.

The purpose of this Laborshed analysis is to measure the availability and characteristics of workers within the area based on commuting patterns into Buchanan County. The Laborshed data generated aids local development officials in their facilitation of industry expansion and recruitment and their service to existing industry in the area. All such entities require detailed data describing the characteristics of the available labor force including current/desired wage rates and benefits; job qualifications and skills; age cohorts; residence/work location; employment requirements/obstacles; and the distances individuals are willing to travel for employment.

Laborshed studies also give insight into potential pockets of available labor that are not analyzed elsewhere such as: those who are currently employed but likely to change employment, along with those who are currently not employed (the unemployed, homemakers, and retirees) but are likely to re-enter the workforce. Deeper-dive analysis is available as well; labor availability reports for a particular industry or set of occupations can be produced for an area to show the concentration level of residents in the Laborshed area that have current or past experience working in a selected industry or occupation. Among other things, these reports provide labor estimates, employment status, a list of job search sources these individuals use (including specific websites and newspapers) and the wages employers in that area pay to staff those positions.

Information generated from the Laborshed study includes:

  • Estimated number of individuals very likely or somewhat likely to change or accept employment in Buchanan County.
  • Employment information by industry sectors: wage data, number employed, etc.
  • Employment status: employed unemployed, homemakers or retired.
  • Commuting patterns.
  • Benefits and education levels.
  • How people seek employment and how companies can best advertise for employees.


The Iowa Workforce Development Laborshed Studies website offers interactive and executive summaries for various cities or regions.

Buchanan County  ||  The city of Independence is chosen as information for the studies is based of the most centralized city of the county.

Cedar Valley  ||  We are part of the Cedar Valley Regional Partnership region.


Buchanan County is a great location for businesses and industries, their employees and their families. This part of the Cedar Valley Region houses a population of over 20,000 people and has a potential labor force of over 209,000 workers from a six-county area.

The Buchanan County manufacturing sector continues to expand. This sector has grown over the past few years with local industries continuing to expand both their physical plants as well as adding additional employees. These local industries have rich ties to their community and see them as a positive place to do business as they continue to grow right here in Buchanan County.

Many opportunities await both employers and those seeking employment within the Buchanan County, Iowa area. These opportunities, partnered with a highly educated and motivated workforce, have attracted Fortune 500 companies such as Tyson to locate operations in Buchanan County as well.

In Buchanan County, the average hourly wage across all industries in 2019 was $20.80/hour. In the highest employment sector, manufacturing, the average wage is $16.32/hour with a welder with experience on average making $20.46/hour and an assembler making on average $17.03/hour.

Education based on age 25-64 for Buchanan County, Iowa

TotalIn Labor ForceEmployedUnemployment Rate
Population 25-6411,50082.9%80.3%2.6%
High School Graduate (includes equivalency)4,18883.4%80.9%2.5%
Some college or Associate’s Degree3,73083.3%80.5%2.7%
Bachelor’s Degree or Higher2,05588.7%87.8%0.9%

Quick Look at Buchanan County
Employers with 150+ Employees8
Per Capita Income$31,495
Median Household Income$61,409
Mean Household Income$79,904
Average Wage Per Job$32,895
Median Age38.7 years
High School Graduation Rate94.1%
Some College20.9%
Advanced Degree5.6%