Prince William County’s abundant local supply of highly educated, highly skilled, diverse workforce is one of the County’s most valuable assets.
Size and Growth of Prince William County’s Labor Force
As of November 2014, Prince William County’s labor force stood at 235,044 having increased appreciably over the period 2003-2013 by approximately 36%. The County’s labor force continues to be one of the fastest growing in the region with its ten-year growth rate outpacing that of the Washington DC Metro area as well as that of Virginia and the United States.
Employment and Unemployment
The County’s relatively high level of employment and low level of unemployment are further indications of its thriving economy. The County’s economic successes and pro-business approach have resulted in an environment in which businesses want to locate and expand; and therefore, increase the number of jobs they choose to locate within the County.
A brief glance at the County’s employment by main industries and occupations suggests that Prince William County’s workforce already possesses the skills and capabilities to meet the labor demands of growth industries, particularly, high-tech, knowledge-based industries. Much of the County’s employment occurs in the areas of: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services; Educational Services; Healthcare and Social Assistance. In addition, the County has a relative concentration of persons skilled in the areas of: Life, Physical and Social Sciences; Education and Training; Business and Financial Operations; Management.
While the rest of the national economy continues to face headwinds on the employment front, the number of jobs resident in Prince William County has grown steadily over time, increasing from just under 100,000 jobs after the Great Recession to over 120,000 jobs by the middle of 2014. The County’s stability creates a social stronghold, which makes it a desired community in which people choose to live and work.
Consistent with a healthy labor market, the County’s unemployment rate has continued to decline steadily since 2010 - from a (seasonally unadjusted) high of 6.7% in February 2010 to 4.1% towards the end of 2014. Moreover, while national and regional labor markets move in tandem, unemployment in Prince William County has historically trended lower than that of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States.
Wages / Labor Affordability
Prince William County continues to offer a relatively affordable and readily available supply of labor. Average weekly wages in Prince William County are among the most competitive in the region at $837 for 2013 compared to $$1,307 in the Metro DC area and $999 for the state of Virginia. Growth in overall wages has also historically trailed 5% lower.
Educational Attainment and Diversity
Prince William County possesses a highly skilled, highly educated and diverse workforce. In fact approximately 41% of the County’s population over the age of 18 holds at least an Associate’s degree compared to 38% for the state of Virginia and 33% for the United States.
As the County’s population has become more diverse or internationally represented over time, so has its workforce. With over 30% of its population able to speak a language other than English, the Prince William County workforce is better poised to engage and interact with the global community.
The County’s workforce is supported by a robust network of K-12 schools, tertiary institutions, technical and vocational schools as well as workforce development initiatives:
K-12 School System:
Eighty-six percent of the County’s schools are fully accredited compared to 68% statewide. The County’s high schools rank among the top 6% in the nation by Newsweek / Washington Post “Challenge Index”.
The Prince William County School (PWCS) system is the second largest of 132 school divisions in Virginia with 94 schools: 57elementary schools, 16 middle schools and 11 high schools. The PWCS system boasted a 91% on-time graduation rate in 2014, 46.7% of its students earned an advanced studies diploma in 2014 (up from 43.5% in 2013). 2014 was the first year in which all high schools in Prince William County met the graduation benchmark required for full accreditation.
Prince William County offers a range of post-secondary educational opportunities, which allows students from all backgrounds the ability to find a course of study that meets their personal goals. It also provides businesses access to a well-trained, dynamic workforce that can adapt to their changing needs and allow them to maintain or even improve their competitive edge.
The County is serviced by a network of regional and local tertiary educational institutions: George Mason University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, American University, Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland. Located within Prince William County itself, with its science and technology campus located in Prince William County itself are: George Mason’s life sciences and technology campus, Virginia Tech National Capital Region, Northern Virginia Community College (Manassas and Woodbridge Campus).
Technical and Vocational Institutions:
Technical and vocational schools provide flexible training and continuing education alternatives as well as important avenues for talent development. Some of these institutions in and around Prince William County include: ITT Technical Institute, Stratford University and American National University.
Workforce Development Initiatives:
Workforce development initiatives are increasingly recognized as important to the success of local communities and Prince William County is no different. Within the County, workforce development initiatives are carried out by the Virginia Employment Commission through the Virginia Workforce Connection which offers comprehensive job matching between job seeker and employers while simultaneously ensuring that the skills of job seekers match those required by potential employers through education and training.
The Workforce Development Division administered by the Northern Virginia Community College delivers high-impact customized training and flexible program delivery. Training and classes can be conducted at company locations, at the Woodbridge campus, or through convenient online learning. The College’s new Regional Center for Education and Training is currently under construction and is due to open in early 2016. It promises to be a first class facility aimed towards keeping businesses competitive by ensuring a ready supply of appropriately skilled workers with particular focus on cybersecurity, the medical community and logistics.