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Through the second quarter of 2010, there were 844 business establishments supplying 14,508 covered jobs in Lyon County according to DEED’s Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages (QCEW) program. See Table 2-6.
Like many other areas of the state and nation, the economy in Lyon County was struggling with job loss during the Great Recession. From the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2010, Lyon County businesses cut 586 covered jobs, due to losses in retail trade and other services, among other industries. During that same time frame, the state of Minnesota lost just over 125,000 covered jobs, a 4.7 percent decline. The largest employing industry in the region was manufacturing, with 15 percent of total jobs. Statewide, manufacturers cut more than 45,000 covered jobs from the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2010, a massive -13.6 percent decline. However, manufacturing actually gained net new jobs in Lyon County, in addition to a nearly 8 percent jump in average wages. The largest sector was food manufacturing, with 1,387 jobs at 8 firms. Food manufacturing gained 150 jobs from the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2010, in spite of the recession. The next largest sector was wood product manufacturing, though it experienced significant job declines (-86 jobs) from 2008 to 2010. Lyon County also had smaller printing and fabricated metal product manufacturing sectors.
The next largest industry was health care and social assistance, with 1,816 jobs at 71 institutions. Health care was also adding jobs in the county during the recession, netting 106 new jobs from 2008 to 2010. The fastest growing sector was ambulatory health care services – which includes offices of physicians, home health care services, and outpatient care centers – which gained 132 net new jobs; followed by nursing and residential care facilities, which welcomed 41 net new jobs. Hospitals have struggled with tight budgets recently, but are still important employers in the region.
Despite losing 148 jobs from the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2010 as consumers cut back on spending, retail trade is still the third largest employing industry in Lyon County, with 1,765 jobs at 122 businesses. Educational services had 1,508 jobs at 19 institutions, and added 61 jobs over the last two years. Accommodation and food services welcomed 1,070 jobs at 69 establishments. There were just over 1,040 jobs at finance and insurance employers as well, including a jump of 32 net new jobs from 2008 to 2010. Other important industries in the county include: public administration, transportation and warehousing, wholesale trade, and construction. Lyon County also had smaller concentrations of employment in other services; professional and technical services; arts, entertainment, and recreation; agriculture; information; and real estate, rental and leasing.
With 536 firms and 11,259 jobs, the city of Marshall had 77.6 percent of total countywide employment. That included nearly 86.7 percent of the county’s retail trade jobs, 76 percent of the county’s manufacturing jobs, 74 percent of the public administration employment, and just over 71 percent of both the county’s health care and social assistance and finance and insurance jobs. Marshall employers reported 465 fewer jobs from the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2010. The city of Tracy had 813 covered jobs at 81 firms, including 260 jobs in health care and social assistance, 150 jobs in educational services, and 119 jobs in retail trade, after gaining 55 net new jobs in the last two years. Cottonwood was home to 34 firms providing 578 jobs, including 121 jobs in educational services and 81 jobs in manufacturing. There were 431 jobs at 50 businesses in Minneota.
In addition to the industries detailed above, Lyon County is also home to a large number of self-employed establishments without payroll subject to federal income tax, also known as “nonemployers.” Lyon County had 1,619 nonemployer establishments in 2008, with the highest number of self-employed businesses found in other services (including personal services like beauty salons, automotive repair and maintenance, and social organizations); retail trade (including car dealers, nonstore retailers, and miscellaneous store retailers); construction (most notably in specialty trade contractors); and health care and social assistance (primarily in child day care services). See Table 2-7.
Farming and Agriculture
Lyon County also is home to 1,011 farms, which produced $305.7 million in market value of agricultural products sold in 2007, according to the 2007 Census of Agriculture. Nearly two-thirds (62.0%) of the farm owners considered farming their primary occupation, but these farmers were also aging: the average age of principal operators in Lyon County was 55.8 years in 2007. Just over 425,000 acres were in farms, with the average farm size at 424 acres. The trend recently has been in farms either getting bigger or smaller, with almost half (48.3%) of the farms reporting more than $100,000 in sales and another 27 percent reporting less than $1,000 in sales in 2007. The number of farms with 1,000 or more acres has been increasing over the past two decades, and now account for well over 10 percent of total farms in the county. See Figure 2-4.
Income and Earnings
Lyon County had the 38th highest median household income (MHI) in the state in 2009, at $46,783. Despite a 14.4 percent increase since 2000, Lyon County’s MHI was about $8,800 less than the state’s median household income ($55,621). Incomes were similar in surrounding counties, especially those with larger economies – like Redwood County (Redwood Falls), Yellow Medicine County (Granite Falls), and Murray County (Slayton) – but all of the surrounding counties saw faster increases in median household incomes from 2000 to 2009 than Lyon County. See Table 2-8.
Occupations of Southwest Minnesota Workers
The two largest occupation groups in Region 8 – which includes Lyon County as well as Cottonwood, Jackson, Lincoln, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, and Rock counties – are office and administrative support occupations and production occupations. Significant numbers of individuals are also employed in food preparation and serving occupations; sales and related occupations; transportation and material moving occupations; education, training, and library occupations; healthcare support occupations; health care practitioners and technical occupations; business and financial operations occupations; construction and extraction occupations; and installation, maintenance, and repair occupations. Many of these blue collar occupations are more strongly concentrated in Southwest Minnesota than the rest of the state.
The highest-paying jobs are typically found in management; computer and mathematical occupations; legal occupations; architecture and engineering occupations; life, physical, and social science occupations; business and financial operations occupations; and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, which require higher levels of education and experience. The lowest paying jobs are concentrated in food preparation and serving, retail sales, building and grounds cleaning, health care support, and personal care; all of which typically require less education and short-term on-the-job training. See Table 2-9.
Southwest Minnesota is one of the lowest paying regions in the state, with median hourly wages that are nearly 4 dollars lower than the statewide median. Over the course of a full work year (2,080 hours), that adds up to an almost $8,000 wage gap. The pay gaps are even larger for the higher skilled, higher paying occupations like management, computer, and architecture, where annual wage gaps can equal $15,000 to $20,000. The pay gaps are smaller for lower paying jobs.