Environmental Assessment Factors and Categories eGuide

Employment and Income Patterns

Overview

A project can impact employment and income patterns in several ways. Most projects involve temporary construction jobs and permanent jobs required for the operation of the new facility. The purpose of the assessment is first to identify anticipated changes in employment and income patterns and then to evaluate how many of what types of jobs will be created. While increased job opportunities are generally considered beneficial, it is important to determine what the skills and income profile of new employment opportunities are likely to be. Some new development projects serve to displace existing employment.

Measure employment and income patterns either by identifying the occupations and income levels characteristic of an area's resident population or by identifying major employers within the area. Some of the commonly used measures include:

  • Per capita income
  • Median household income
  • Unemployment levels
  • Total employment and employment by industry sectors

Important Considerations

  1. Will the project either significantly increase or decrease employment opportunities? Will it create conditions favorable or unfavorable to commercial, industrial, or institutional operation or development?
  2. How many temporary and how many permanent jobs will the project create?
  3. What are the profiles of the newly created jobs? What is the distribution across the skill sets and income scale? How do these relate to the skills and income profiles of project area residents?
  4. From where are the new employees likely to come? To what degree will these new jobs go to local residents and will local residents be competitively positioned for these jobs?

Analysis Techniques

Goal

Determine whether the project is likely to result in additional jobs or the displacement of existing jobs or businesses.

Step 1

Identify the existing employment and income characteristics of the project area. The census provides income data, including current estimates from city, state, and areawide planning agencies. State workforce or economic development agencies can also provide unemployment data for the area. This data can be viewed over a number of years to assess trends.

Step 2

Use the data above about types of jobs in the area as well as the nature of the project. Assess the likely employment-generating or displacement effects of the project. Project proponents may know construction and permanent employment estimates. If not, create estimates by converting the size and value of the construction into numbers of workers and likely annual income and use multipliers to calculate the likely secondary employment effects.

Mitigation Measures

Often, transportation is the critical link to assist the unemployed in securing a job. In some situations, the development of public transportation, such as an express bus, from residential areas to job locations can serve to mitigate the problem of siting a new development project in a location that is not near existing transportation lines. The following are effective mitigation strategies:

  • Coordinate with community resources and organizations that provide job training and foster job development or unemployment job placement.
  • Provide a specialized job training program for the types of jobs created by the project to support the job placement of workers from local communities.
  • Explore the need to construct temporary worker housing facilities to alleviate impacts to the local community during the construction phase.
  • Develop a Worker Housing Program in coordination with the local jurisdiction.
  • Assess the potential for permanent job creation during the operational phase of the project and explore the potential to maximize local job creation and secondary employment benefits.

Resources to Reference/Experts to Contact

  • Local Industrial Development Authority
  • Economist at state employment service
  • Planner/Administrator at local planning or employment agency
  • Chamber of Commerce