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Overview and Methodology

The State of the St. Louis Workforce Report was developed through the analysis of three research components: (i) Employer Survey Telephone Interviews, (ii) Dislocated Worker Survey and (iii) Case Study Interviews.

Employer Survey

This survey was designed to gain a better understanding of the labor market conditions, employment trends, and skill demands of the businesses in the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area. Data for this survey was taken from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) ReferenceUSAGov employer database; a source that contains up-to-date contact information of over 400 million companies across the nation. Survey population is a total of 112,853 employers in the bi-state region, with 90,318 Missouri companies and 22,535 Illinois companies. These firms were stratified by their NAICS (North American Industry Classification) code across 17 super sector industry classifications. A random sample of 1,218 employers was selected to be interviewed via telephone to complete this survey. A complete list of survey questions can be found in the appendix of this report.

Dislocated Worker Survey

The aim of this survey was to understand the work history, skill level, training needs and re-employment challenges the region’s dislocated workers. An electronic survey was administered through the networks of Missouri Career Centers, Southwestern Illinois WorkNet Centers, St. Louis Community College and the professional networks: Go! Network and BounceBack St. Louis. There were 408 total responses collected and analyzed. A complete list of survey questions can be found in the appendix of this report.

Case Studies

To further supplement and enhance the qualitative results of the Employer Survey case study interviews were conducted with six employers in the region. During in-depth one-on-one conversations employers provided useful insights crucial to this study.

Skill Levels

Low, Middle and High skill occupations are referenced throughout this report. Occupations are classified in these categories on the basis of the education and training typically needed.

Low Skill occupations are those that require only short-term on-the-job training.

Middle Skill occupations are those that include moderate-term and long-term on-the-job training, work experience in a related occupation, postsecondary vocational awards, and Associate’s degrees. It can include advanced on-the-job training provided by employers, internships, apprenticeships, and awards or degrees typically provided at a technical or community college.

High Skill occupations include jobs that require a Bachelor’s degree or higher and in some cases additional work experience.


We would like to thank all entities (businesses and dislocated workers) for their voluntary participation in our surveys. We are especially grateful to our industry partners: bioMérieux, Inc., GSI, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Microgrid Energy, SSM Healthcare–St. Louis and Talisen Technologies, Inc. for their time and valuable insight through case study sessions.

Our deepest thanks to the staff of the University of Missouri, School of Journalism, Center for Advanced Social Research for assisting with data collection. Thank you also to the staff of the Missouri Career Centers and Southwestern Illinois WorkNet Centers; and to the organizers of the Go! Network and BounceBack St. Louis professional networks. A special thanks to the staff of St. Louis Community College Workforce and Community Development.

The 2011 State of St. Louis Workforce report was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the MERIC Workforce Research Group, led by Sonal Haté. Report writing was done by Meredith Hill, principal investigator. Graphic design and layout is courtesy of Frances M. Kemp. Additional data collection and analysis was facilitated by staff interns Matthew O’Rourke and Jacob D. Pickett.


1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (15 March 2010). Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition. Washington DC: Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco2003.htm.

2 Infogroup, Inc. (May 2011). ReferenceUSAGov, U.S. Businesses. Omaha, NE: Infogroup/Government Division. Retrieved from www.referenceusagov.com/Static/Home.

3 Bureau of Labor Statistics and the State of Missouri (July 2011). Local Area Unemployment Statistics. Retrieved from www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/laus/default.aspx.