Wage Requirements

As of July 1, 2012, the High Quality Jobs Program will utilize the "Laborshed Wages" to determine program eligibility instead of county or regional average wages. Because laborshed wages are calculated based on an employment area's actual commuting patterns and exclude retail and healthcare wages, among others, the resulting wage is more representative of a true starting wage for the types of businesses eligible for assistance under these programs. To be eligible for assistance, jobs must pay a starting wage of 100% of the laborshed wage and will reach 120% within three years (by the end of the contract performance period).

For projects in counties that are determined to be in an "economically distressed area", jobs only need to meet the 100% laborshed wage threshold through the life of the project.

Projects receiving funding through the EDSA program will need to meet the 90% laborshed wage threshold.

Find Wage Threshold for Your Project

  • Step One — Search by zip code or city to find laborshed area:
  • Step Two — Find wage threshold for your laborshed area: [Excel: 21k]
  • Step Three — Find out if economically distressed criteria applies to your county: [Excel: 17k]


“Laborshed area” means the geographic area surrounding an employment center from which the employment center draws its commuting workers. The Iowa department of workforce development (IWD) determines the employment centers and defines the boundaries of each laborshed area. IWD defines laborshed areas by surveying commuters within the various zip code areas surrounding an employment center, combining the zip code areas into as many as three zones, and determining how many people commute from a zip code to the employment center from each zone. The zones reflect the fact that as the distance from an employment center increases, the number of people willing to commute to the employment center decreases. When determining the applicable laborshed wage, the authority will use the closest laborshed area, as determined by road distance between the employment center and the zip code of the project location.

“Laborshed wage” means the same as defined in Iowa Code section 15.327. The authority will calculate the laborshed wage as follows:

  1. The most current covered wage and employment data available from IWD will be used.
  2. The wage will be computed as a mean wage figure and represented in terms of an hourly wage rate.
  3. Only the wages paid by employers for jobs performed within the first two zones of a laborshed area will be included.
  4. The wages paid by employers in the following categories will be excluded from the calculation: government, retail trade, heath care and social assistance, and accommodations and food service. The wages paid by employers in all other categories will be included in the calculation.
  5. To the extent that a laborshed area includes zip codes from states other than Iowa, the wages paid by employers in those zip codes may be included if IWD has finalized a data sharing agreement with the state in question and has received the required data.
  6. Only those wages within two standard deviations from the mean wage will be included.

“Economically distressed area” means a county that ranks among the bottom 33 of all Iowa counties, as measured by either the average monthly unemployment level for the most recent twelve-month period or the average annualized unemployment level for the most recent five-year period.

To Learn More:

Phone: 515.725.3000