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Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Survey provides look at area’s work force

67 percent of those surveyed are employed; 21 percent are retired

June 20, 2001

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The call went out, and people responded in large numbers.

Persistence and name recognition of a university's research center resulted in a more than 70 percent response rate for a newly released Lawrence work force survey.

The Docking Institute of Public Affairs and its Center for Survey Research at Fort Hays State University conducted the random telephone survey of the Lawrence/Douglas County labor pool for ECO2, a Lawrence Chamber of Commerce task force that is looking for open and commercial spaces. The labor market survey included Douglas County and the six adjacent counties.

Brett Zollinger, the center's director, said the university has fairly good response rates with telephone surveys, which typically yield a 75 to 80 percent rate compared to the national average of 60 percent or less.

"Particularly in Kansas, most people realize we're not telemarketers and we're at Fort Hays State," he said. "I think it's mainly name recognition."

The university repeated phone calls up to six times in its efforts to gather responses from those surveyed.

Draft results of the survey, released Monday, make up the first phase in a three-part survey the university is conducting this summer.

Docking Institute also will survey 400 of the county's employers and 200 inbound employees who commute to Douglas County to work. The city and county pitched in $15,000 to pay for the study, and the chamber contributed $5,000.

Of the 2,054 people contacted for the survey, 1,465 responded.

Among the survey findings:

l About 67 percent of those surveyed are employed, and about 21 percent are retired.

l About 24 percent of those surveyed said they feel their job underutilizes their skills.

l About 26 percent said they are underemployed or not using skills they have. Unused sales skills were reported by 19 percent; unused computer programming skills by 17 percent.

l About 20 percent of Douglas County respondents reported total household income of more than $70,000; about 16 percent reported household income of $30,000 to $40,000.

l The average number of hours worked per week at a primary job for Douglas County residents is 41 hours. About 15 percent of those surveyed hold second jobs requiring about 18 hours a week.

Kelvin Heck, ECO2's chairman, said Tuesday that the group needed more time to digest the information before talking about what the survey means to Lawrence and the county.

Members are expected to comment on the survey findings during a news conference at 8 a.m. today at the chamber, 734 Vt.

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