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Commuter study to help market area

December 22, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A study released this week estimates between 16,588 and 18,301 Washington County residents travel daily to jobs outside of the county, mainly because they can find better pay and benefits elsewhere.

Most of the commuters surveyed - 71 percent - said they earn between $20,000 and $79,000 a year, according to the Out-Commuter Analysis. The average salary of the respondents is $60,000 a year.

Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents said they traveled at least 30 minutes to more than an hour each day to their jobs, most of which are in Frederick and Montgomery counties, according to the survey.

RESI of Towson (Md.) University completed the survey for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission for $15,750. The estimated number of commuters out of the county is based on 378 telephone surveys.

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Ninety percent of all survey respondents said they would work in the county if they had the opportunity.

The analysis results reaffirmed the EDC's hunches about why county residents commute out of the county, but it also gave the agency good information about the types of jobs commuters hold, EDC Deputy Director Cassandra H. Latimer said by phone Wednesday.

The information will allow the EDC to market the county to specific types of companies based on the survey results, she said. For example, the study estimates that 1,619 commuters hold jobs in the trades. Latimer said the EDC can use that information to try to influence more trade jobs in the county.

"The survey is giving us good data that we can now put into our marketing efforts," Latimer said.

EDC Executive Director Timothy R. Troxell said in a written statement that economic development is heavily driven by data.

"Oftentimes, companies will make a preliminary decision about whether or not to locate or expand in a community, strictly on available demographic information," Troxell said. "Its important for our agency to present the most accurate and current data possible."

A state report, based on numbers from the year 2000, has said the number of people commuting into the county for work was 20,451.

RESI is a research and consulting firm associated with Towson University, according to a statement from the EDC.

The full Out-Commuter Analysis can be found at www.hagerstownedc.org/Demographics/labor.html.

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