Rural Wage Disparity Study
In collaboration with the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission (CUPPAD), the Upper Peninsula Collaborative Development Council (UPCDC) was awarded a Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) grant to conduct a rural wage disparity study in Region 1, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The project was sparked by a specific need encountered on an increasingly recurring basis throughout 2013 by the region’s business services professionals attempting to fill job postings for employers, and became a topic of priority in the Regional Prosperity Initiative efforts in 2014. The study covered all of Region 1, the 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which has the largest land mass of all 10 regions. This expansive, remotely-positioned geography, coupled with a population of roughly 300,000 residents, creates a region with unique talent attraction and retention challenges.
The research was structured to create a targeted report which is meant to serve as a useful tool to help our regional economic, community and workforce development professionals drive a more robust dialogue with employers when there is concern raised about why certain positions they have posted are more difficult to fill. Specifically, Region 1 undertook this study:
- To quantify targeted wage comparisons through data analysis
- To then reach out to employers to engage them in discussions to address their recruitment challenges
- To focus on a limited set of positions to create a dialogue and exploration of current and potential new tools and strategies for assisting companies with recruitment challenges and opportunities unique to Region 1
Summary of Findings: Of the Occupations Studied, Leadership and Management Positions Show Widest Disparity
The most significant findings in the data show the widest wage disparities between the U.P. and all other areas studied, urban and rural, occur at the levels of leadership and management.
While wages for occupations such as mechanics, electricians and nurses also ranked most often lower than urban areas, and comparable to other rural regions, the disparity levels were consistently much higher for leadership and management positions.
The significance of this finding leads to recommendations which include:
- Leadership Development
- Planning for a full spectrum of talent pipeline development, such as:
- Succession planning
- Active engagement in regional talent initiatives
- Developing or building upon internal company processes and programs for all employees