WALKER -- Jennifer Hawkins, Region 5 Development Commission economic development director, reported to Cass County commissioners on changes she found in the county's economic picture while updating the region's economic development strategy.
Of the 811 businesses in Cass, 539 employ four or fewer people and 98 percent have 20 or fewer employees. There were 431 jobs added in the county between 2000 and 2003.
She found the average weekly wage paid to agriculture, forestry and fishing workers dropped 18.57 percent from $447 to $377 from 2002 to 2003. There was a 33.67 percent decline in weekly wages for transportation and warehousing workers from $671 to $502. Weekly wages also dropped 5.41 percent for federal government workers from $818 to $776.
Employment categories where Hawkins saw weekly wage increases included educational services, up 13.57 percent from $464 to $492; arts, entertainment and recreation, up 19.52 percent from $169 to $210; other services, up 14.62 percent from $222 to $260; and retail trade, up 8.64 percent from $349 to $382.
Hawkins said the state demographer's office expects Cass County's population to increase from 27,150 in 2000 to 45,300 by 2030. Similarly, that office expects the labor force to increase 57 percent by 2030.
Cass County residents are slightly above average in education among Region 5 counties, with 22.5 percent having an associate degree or higher, Hawkins said, but added this is below the statewide average of 35.1 percent.
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