MORRIS – The Grundy County labor force has changed during the past 10 years so that more nonresidents work within Grundy than those who actually live there.
On the typical work day, more than 20,000 Grundy County residents get into their cars and drive an average of 29 minutes to go to work in Cook, DuPage, Will and other counties that aren’t Grundy.
Meanwhile, more than 10,000 residents from other counties commute to Grundy for work, according to 2011 U.S. Census data.
In all, 75 percent of working-age residents in Grundy are employed outside of the county, and this migration of Grundy workers has increased about 10 percent in the past 10 years.
“The increase in numbers corresponds to the residential growth and boom period that we saw in the mid-2000s,” said Nancy Norton Ammer, chief executive officer of the Grundy Economic Development Council. “You saw a lot of these communities – Coal City, Minooka, Channahon and others – have big, big growth.”
From 2000 to 2010, Grundy County’s population grew more than 33 percent – from about 38,000 to 50,000 people – making it one of the fastest growing counties in Illinois, according to U.S. Census data.
Ammer said residents from neighboring counties migrated to Grundy County during that population boom.
“What happened was people moved here who could get more house for their money, but they kept their jobs elsewhere,” Ammer said. “We’re also a pretty mobile area because geographically, Grundy County is small.”
According to the data, most residents are migrating to Will, Cook and DuPage counties.
“Seventy percent of the Grundy workforce leaves the county for their job, but Will county is not that dissimilar,” said John Greuling, president of Will County Center for Economic Development. “The reality is we are all a part of the same labor shed.”
Greuling said this migration is normal for counties in the area adding that Will County’s economic growth has been a draw for neighboring counties.
“We’re in a unique position where we’ve been creating more jobs than we’ve been losing over the last 10 years,” Greuling said. “We’re well diversified and that’s going to be a draw for anyone looking for a job. We have a lot of different industry sectors that have openings.”
Of the 16,915 jobs within Grundy County in 2011, 10,227 of them – or 60.5 – belonged to people living outside the county. Will County residents made up 21.4 percent of the Grundy workforce in 2011.
Only 6,688 Grundy County residents, or 24.8 percent of the county’s entire population, works within the county.
“A lot of our large industrial plants are very high-quality jobs and the labor pool they draw from is wider than just Grundy County,” Ammer said. “Also, we’ve been fortunate to see some job growth.”
Ammer said this type of commute is especially typical for counties neighboring Chicago, although Grundy has one of the highest commuting percentages of counties in this area.
“We always want to make sure that there are quality jobs in Grundy County that people don’t have to commute to find,” Ammer said.