The head of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council said the local economy had many encouraging indicators, including consumers buying heavily, based on year-to-date sales tax receipts.
“You’re talking about $300,000 in 2020 in council taxes for the entire county, which have now topped $600,000 last month. It could have something to do with disposable income and new wages,” a CEO Patrick Hoban told the audience at BN by the Numbers quarterly. Friday briefing at Illinois State University.
Hoban said the size of the local workforce is up and the unemployment rate is down.
He also said new data from a private firm tends to show people are more willing to travel to Bloomington-Normal for work than previously thought. Rivian employees travel to the Normal factory from as far away as Kankakee. Hoban said this was according to a tracking company called Placer.ai. Hoban said it’s helpful in showing prospects they’ll be able to find workers in a wider catchment area if they settle in McLean County.
“It’s not necessarily a 60-mile labor pool now. It’s rising to a 90-mile labor pool,” Hoban said. “Our 60 mile labor pool is about a million people. We can’t support who we have right now with our own population. We rely on that kind of data to show all the people coming in each day.”
About 57,000 people live in the Twin Cities and work in the city; 28,900 people live in Bloomington-Normal and travel outside the urban area to work, Hoban said, adding that about 34,000 people live outside of McLean County and travel to the Bloomington-Normal area to find jobs.
Hoban said the number of people out of work and looking for work was down about 1,000 from the same time last year. There are approximately 3,865 unemployed people in the McLean County labor market. And he said the $286.2 million in building permits registered in the Twin Cities so far this year exceeds the total for all of last year.
Hoban said all that total was unrelated to Rivian and Ferrero, the candy maker that is also expanding its operations here.