Carroll County’s population of 20,083 people is expected to decrease by about 2 percent over the next five years after declining by 2 percent, or 415 people, since 2014, according to an economic overview of the county released by the Carroll Area Development Corporation.
Meanwhile, the number of jobs in Carroll County decreased by 409 over five years to 12,912 this year. But the 2019 report projects an increase of 270 jobs over next five years.
The CADC-commissioned report emphasizes what local business owners and economic-development leaders have struggled with for the better part of the decade: a low unemployment rate that makes it challenging to sustain and expand commerce in the region. The report, developed by EMSI, an Idaho firm, shows that there are just 232 working-age people in Carroll County without a job.
“We do have the opportunity to be a little bit more selective when we’re looking at recruitment projects because we don’t have a 15 percent unemployment rate,” said Shannon Landauer, executive director of the CADC. “We’re not trying to employ people right now. That’s not our primary goal. Our goal is to bring people to the opportunities that are here.”
There are a number of positive signs in the report, Landauer said, noting that manufacturing continues to be relatively strong. There are 1,455 manufacturing jobs in Carroll County, a figure that’s nearly 50 percent better than for other regions the county’s size in the United States.
“I think that everyone here can agree,” Landauer said. “We are strong in manufacturing. We are very much maybe stereotyped as being ag heavy.”
If you live in Carroll County, and never travel outside of it, the odds of being a victim of a violent crime is almost non existent. The violent crime rate in Carroll County is 0.25 percent per 1,000 people, well below the national rate of 3.87 violent crimes annually per 1,000 people.
“Things like the violent crime rate and those basic feel-good things have to be in place for someone to come here and are critical,” Landauer said.
One workforce challenge: there are 7,023 people in Carroll County age 55 or older, compared to the national average of 5,834 people for a region Carroll’s size. This will make it more challenging to replace workers.
In terms of education level, 16.7 percent of the working-age population hold four-year college degrees in Carroll County. About 12 percent of the people have a two-year associate’s degree.
“I think we absolutely do need to emphasize the trades and the technical colleges,” Landauer said. “Those services are critical in communities our size. We have to have plumbers and electricians and building trades and all those types of things.”
But stressing a range of options for education is essential, Landauer said.
“I don’t think it’s one versus the other,” Landauer said. “I think it’s a balance.”
Carroll’s racial diversity remains low as there are 1,079 “racially diverse people” here compared to 7,985 for regions this size in the United States, the EMSI report says.
“It’s important,” Landauer said. “The integration is key. If you try to maintain as you’ve always been it’s not a successful formula because things have changed, naturally. If you’re not trying to grow, you’re making the choice to decline.”
Landauer said there is not a “magic number” for an increased percentage of minorities. Rather, the county needs a mindset of acceptance, she said.
“You’ve gotta embrace differences,” Landauer said.
The largest industries in Carroll County are health care, retail trade, manufacturing and government jobs. Agriculture doesn’t make the list of the top 6 growing industries, although some manufacturing is tied to the value-added ag sector.
The median household income in Carroll County is $54,600. Some families have to work three jobs or more to hit that number, though, Landauer said.
In 2019, 9,941 people worked in the City of Carroll, but just 7,514 of those people live in the city.
Manning, on the other hand, has 1,004 working in the southern Carroll County city, but far more, 1,254 living in the city, according to the study.