St. Louis Community College recently released its 2018 State of the St. Louis Workforce Report. This year, lack of transportation access was one of the top five barriers according to industry sectors surveyed to expanding employment levels. For a decade, St. Louis Community College and its research partners have tracked the recovery and growth of the region’s workforce, as well as its continuing challenges, through this report.
Lack of transportation access has been a selection for the Potential Barriers to Expanding Employment question of the survey for a number of years. Employers are asked if they have encountered any of the following barriers to expanding their employment level including shortage of workers with knowledge or skills; economic conditions; government policies and regulations; shortage of available training programs; lack of transportation access; lack of information; and lack of childcare access. Employers could indicate multiple barriers, or they can indicate they are not expanding or haven’t seen any barriers instead. Seventeen percent of employers indicated that lack of transportation access is a barrier this year. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly half (46%) of the workforce commute fewer than 10 miles to work, while nine percent travel over 50 miles.
Employers were also asked to rank, on a 1-5 scale (where 5 would be a critical barrier) the importance of each barrier. The importance of lack of transportation access as a barrier had a weighted score of 3.17 this year. The importance of this barrier seems is increasing from 2017 (3.12), 2016 (3 industry sectors: 3.01), and 2015 (3.09).
When surveying all industry sectors of the St. Louis MSA, this barrier has been ranking steadily higher: 23% in 2017, 20% in 2015, 13% in 2013, 12% in 2012, and 7% in 2011.