Economic analysis depicts a sluggish Strasburg

Report: 70 percent of residents work outside the county

STRASBURG – The Strasburg planning commission discussed a report Tuesday detailing the city’s sluggish recovery from the 2008 recession and the findings’ relevance to the Northern Shenandoah Business Park.

The city commissioned the report from Camoin Associates, an economic development firm. The report analyzes Strasburg’s demographics and economic base, and provides a strategy for implementation of the business park.

The 229-page report uses demographic, social and economic data that depicts Strasburg lagging behind the county, region and state in recovering from the recession.

Demographics

According to the report, Strasburg is exporting the bulk of its labor force out of the county, and it lags behind state averages in education, employment and median household income.

The report states more than 70 percent of Strasburg residents work outside of Shenandoah County. Most residents commute to Winchester or Warren, Frederick or Fairfax counties.

Wyatt Pearson, Strasburg’s planning and zoning administrator, said most of the report’s economic and demographic didn’t surprise him, with the exception of the outflow of labor.

“Some exporting is expected from a small town, but that’s a relatively high one in my experience,” Pearson said. “Typically you see something closer to 60-40.”

In regard to education, while Strasburg’s high school graduation rate of 86 percent is even with the state and national average, its higher education numbers pale in comparison. While 21 percent of Strasburg residents attain an associate’s degree or higher, 42 percent of Virginians and 37 percent of Americans do the same. Likewise, 15 percent of Strasburg residents earn a bachelor’s degree, compared to 35 percent of Virginians and 29 percent of Americans.

When it comes to median income, the report states Strasburg residents have a median household income of $50,560, which is greater than Shenandoah County’s – $49,977 – although less than the state average of $62,786 and the national average of $53,217.

However, the county outperforms the state with a 5 percent unemployment rate, compared to the Virginia’s 5.2 percent rate.

Economic base

Although the report’s numbers show Strasburg has not yet hit the high watermark it left before the recession, in 2014 it maintained 92 percent of the jobs in the city before the recession. However, surrounding towns and counties have already exceeded their pre-recession numbers.

In 2014, Strasburg hosted 3,428 jobs, 267 fewer than it did in 2004. Yet the Strasburg economic region – Berkeley (West Virginia), Frederick, Warren, Page, Rockingham and Shenandoah counties, along with Winchester and Harrisonburg – hosts 6 percent more jobs than it did before the recession.

Most of the job losses occurred in the manufacturing, information, construction, crop and animal production, and retail trade industries.

On the flipside, the report shows certain industries grew in Strasburg including administrative support and waste management and remediation services, health care and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, accommodation and food services, and management of companies and enterprises.

Methodology

Camoin Associates organized and analyzed all information listed in the report, and outside firms including business analysts Emsi and Esri collected the data, said Christa Franzi, a senior economic development specialist for Camoin Associates. She said both Emsi and Esri use national and local sources to produce data.

In the report, figures related to Strasburg refer to ZIP code 22657, which extends outside of Strasburg proper. The report attributes this to industry and employment data only being available by county and ZIP code.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com

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