Ford County Profile

Economic Characteristics

The following table contains the basic economic characteristics for Ford County, as well as for Champaign, Iroquois, and Piatt counties. Ford County, with a population of approximately 13,000, is the least populated county in the workforce investment area. The median household income of $49,300 dollars is 6.6 percent lower than that of the region and 17 percent lower than the state median.

In 2017 there were 5,054 jobs in Ford County, accounting for approximately four percent of the total number of jobs in the region. The Gross Regional Product (GRP) in Ford County was roughly 490 million dollars in 2017; lower than the GRP of Champaign and Iroquois counties, but higher than the GRP of Piatt County.

Population Characteristics

The median household and family incomes in Ford County has a higher median household income than the U.S. as a whole. However, family income is lower compared to state medians. Household income is the sum of income of all people over 15 years living in a household, including related family members and unrelated individuals. Family income is the income of all family members 15 and over. Families are groups of two or more individuals related by birth, marriage, or adoption that reside together.

A large share of the population is between 45 and 64 years of age, while the population between 20 and 34 years old is much smaller. The ratio between male and females is relatively uniform with the exception of those over 75 years of age.

Since 2010, Ford County has seen a gradual decline in its total population, decreasing by approximately six percent, from 14,081 in 2010 to 13,280 in 2017.

In Ford County, a large majority of the population (97 %) is white. The second-largest race group is Other, which includes American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Some Other Race, and Two or More Races. This group together makes up approximately 1.6 percent of the Ford County population. One percent of the population identifies as African American. The Asian share of the population is small, with 64 individuals residing in the county in 2017. Overall, 452 (3.2 %) of the population in Ford County is of Hispanic origin.

Education Characteristics

The educational attainment in Ford County is illustrated in absolute numbers and percentages. Half of the county’s individuals 25 years and over (50 %) have a high school diploma or less as their highest level of educational attainment. Fifty percent of the population in Ford County has at least some college experience, and 18 percent has a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Within Ford County, there are large differences in educational attainment between races. Within the white population, 25 percent have completed a college degree, while 75 percent have a high school diploma or less.

Among the African American and American Indian/Alaska Native population, a majority have a high school diploma or less as their highest educational attainment. Sixty-nine percent of the Asian population and 77 percent of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders and individuals identifying as two or more races have completed a college degree.

Employment Characteristics

More than 78 percent of employed individuals in Ford County work for a private employer. This can be compared to 79.8 percent in the United States and 83 percent in Illinois, respectively. The county also has a larger share of self-employed individuals in the county compared to U.S. and state averages.

For share of jobs by occupation categories, Ford County exceeds state and national levels with its high share of workers in the natural resources, construction, production, and transportation sectors. The management, business, science, and arts sectors are considerably smaller than the state and national levels.

Looking at the share of jobs by industry categories, educational services, health care and social assistance jobs employ around 25 percent of the Ford County workers, slightly higher than U.S. and state averages. Agriculture jobs are also more common in Ford County than in the state and nation. However, there is a small share of jobs in the professional, scientific, and management industries in the county compared to Illinois and U.S. averages.

Unemployment Characteristics

Between 2008 and 2017, the unemployment rate in Ford County has mostly been somewhat lower than national and state averages. The county labor market experienced a peak in the unemployment rate at 9.2 percent in 2010, just after the economic recession. Since then it has declined to just over four percent in 2017.

Shown in the comparison of unemployment rate by age, Ford County has lower unemployment rates among many age groups compared to state and national levels. However, individuals 20 to 24 years of age in Ford County have a significantly higher unemployment rate than in Illinois and nationally. The lowest levels of unemployment are observed among individuals from 25 to 34 and those over 75 years of age.

Unemployment rates tend to decrease with higher educational attainment. The Ford County unemployment rates are similar to that of the state and nation, but with a lower unemployment rate among those with college experience.

Employment rate by other characteristics is also compared. Among individuals with a disability or those living below the poverty level, the county-level unemployment rates are comparable to the rest of the state and nation. At county, state, and national levels, the unemployment rate is more than twice as high among those living below the poverty level compared to the general population. The rate in Ford County is comparable to that of Illinois and the U.S. Among the population with a disability, the unemployment rate in Ford County is approximately 19 percent, which is significantly higher than unemployment rate for the overall population over 16 years of age.

Commuting Characteristics

County-level commuting characteristics within the region are summarized for both workers and residents. In 2015, 6,682 Ford County residents were employed, while the total number of employed individuals working in the county was 4,744. Ford County has a higher number of employees working outside the county than the number of employed individuals living in the county. Most of the county’s residents work in another county, while 32 percent both reside and work in Ford County.

Industry Characteristics

Largest Industries by Number of Jobs, Ford County 2017 summarized the largest industries in Ford County based on 2-digit NAICS codes. Health care and social assistant jobs employ the most individuals within the county, and have increased by 41 percent between 2007 and 2017. Manufacturing jobs has also seen an upswing in the county, increasing by 26 percent over the 10-year period.

Utilities are by far the most prominent industry sector in terms of relative concentration in the county, with a location quotient (LQ) of 4.62. However, the number of jobs has dropped by six percent, from 86 jobs in 2007 to 81 in 2017. Many of the industry sectors experienced decreases across the time period, resulting in a five-percent decline in the overall number of jobs in 2017 compared to 2007.

Detailed Employment Change in Ford County, 2007-2017 shows the detailed employment change in Ford County between 2007 and 2017. The largest change in the number of jobs is seen among registered nurses, growing by 134 jobs (108%). Veterinary technologists and techicians are also seeing a large increase in the number of jobs, growing by 118 percent (13 jobs) over the 10- year period.

The 20 biggest industries based on the number of employees in the county are shown in Top 20 Industry Sectors Based on Employees, Ford County 2016. Hospitals are the largest employer in Ford County, with around 590 employees. There are also many jobs in local government and the wholesale sector. The table does not depict the industries with the highest output.

The 20 biggest industry sectors by total sales in Ford County are listed. The largest industry is grain and oilseed milling with sales in 2017 exceeding $280 million. The general medical and surgical hospital industry also had total 2017 sales worth more than $100 million. These NAICS industries, as well as many smaller ones, have a vast majority of their total sales occurring outside the county. Notable exceptions are local government and restaurants and other eating places, which have most of their sales taking place in Ford County.

**: The given industry’s total annual sales (gross receipts), both to other industries and to consumers.
***: The percent of the given industry’s total sales that occur outside the defined region.

Largest Business in Ford County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 356 establishments in Ford County in 2016. An establishment is a single physical location at which business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed. 1 . The 10 largest employers are listed. Gibson Community Hospital employs the most workers, with 300 employees. Hyles-Anderson College and Baltimore Aircoil are also major employers in the county.

Business size within the county is categorized by number of employees. A majority of businesses in Ford County have between one and nine employees, accounting for 67.9 percent of total establishments county-wide. There is also a relatively large share of companies with between 10 and 49 employees (27.1%). The share of businesses that employ more than 99 individuals is 2.3 percent.

Projected Employment Change By Industry

The projected employment change by industry between 2017 and 2027 is depicted. The biggest percent change is projected to occur in the management of companies and enterprises sector, with an increase of 25 percent between 2017 and 2027. The health care and social assistance sector is projected to add the most jobs, around 200 over the 10-year period. The educational services and utilities sectors are also expected to see growth.

The number of government jobs is projected to continue its decline, from 773 in 2017 to 737 in 2027. The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry is also expected to see a slight decline over the time period. Overall, the total number of jobs county-wide is projected to grow by about nine percent, an increase of 476 jobs over the 10-year period.

Occupational Characteristics

Among Top Cities Posting in Ford County between April 2017 and April 2018, Paxton and Gibson City were the two cities with the greatest number of unique job postings. Paxton had the most job postings, with more than 800 positions for hire over a 12-month period.

CRST International was the company posting the most jobs in the county, followed by USA Truck and Platinum Supplemental Insurance. The median posting duration range from three days to 72 days among the listed companies.

Between April 2017 and April 2018, the three most common job titles in demand in Ford County were truck drivers, insurance sales agents, and nurses. There was also a high demand for light truck and delivery services drivers.

The most sought-after common skills* in Ford County between April 2017 and April 2018 are listed. Management was desired in 10 percent of the job postings and was the most frequently mentioned skill. Customer service, sales, and innovation skills were also in high demand, appearing in between five and eight percent of the job postings county-wide.

The top 15 most sought-after qualifications are summarized. A commercial driver’s license (CDL) was the most common qualification* requested in job postings between April 2017 and April 2018. There were also many postings seeking various nursing qualifications, the most common being certified nursing assistants with 38 postings.

*: A qualification is an achievement that makes an individual appropriate for a particular job or task.