Map Your Way Forward with Actionable Data

Not all data is actionable. There is labor market data. There is business data. And there is predictive business data, which accelerates decision making and action for WDBs.

– by Danny Patterson


We live in a data-driven economy, where there is simply no shortage of data to navigate through – from labor market information, job listings data, workforce data to business data. Each source represents opportunities and challenges for workforce development boards (WDBs).

WDBs are often unsure of what data or a combination of data to leverage to get the insights they need. Or unsure of which data to pull in first for analysis to determine the best path forward. Some only use labor market information with its 50,000-foot birds-eye view of what is happening in their region. But you can’t see the road signs or warnings ahead essential for a smooth trip.

Some take a narrower path, focused solely on the job seekers and job postings from their Wagner-Peyser labor exchange system. While others travel by country road using job listing data as a proxy for a growing business. Each pathway mentioned contains unanticipated congestion, potholes, and the potential loss of their GPS signal. We all have had that experience, and it’s frustrating.

WDBs are best served by using actionable, predictive business data as GPS to point them in the right direction to understand business dynamics.

Instead, in my view, WDBs are best served by using actionable, predictive business data as GPS to point them in the right direction with all the signs and indicators better to understand the dynamics of every business in the community.

Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDB) within a designated region must jointly perform a regional economic analysis and separate but equal analysis for the LWDB strategic plan. While the strategic plan is essential, the underlying data is even more so.

That said, local or state WDBs are overwhelmed by so many spreadsheets and data points that it confuses them into doing nothing or less than they should. Or underwhelmed by the insights that a 50,000-foot level view can derive. Both situations are understandable. But can one truly understand a business from way above? Or know what to do or how to engage in a meaningful way from that viewpoint? The simple answer is no. We all have data. Tons of it, but can we act on it without additional analysis and insight? And this is the challenge for every workforce agency.

All WDBs want is simply data to chart the best path forward. I contend “simply data” is not of any value. But actionable data, presented simply, is of great importance to WDBs.


Actionable data defined

Workforce Boards will agree unanimously that most of their data is not actionable. Moreover, even though most workforce professionals are not economists, they are responsible for understanding the economy’s conditions. At its purest, the economy is about businesses, locations, jobs, and keeping people employed. Understanding the economy relies on street-level business insights mapped to occupations and jobs data. Imagine if your data could reveal the dynamics inside a priority sector like healthcare or manufacturing. Identify businesses driving the growth and the specific occupations at those businesses, who is stable, and who is contracting? Such data would allow you to develop three distinct engagement strategies for that sector. That’s impact. That’s what actionable data can do for you.

Actionable data has five dimensions. Data must have the ability to be easily filtered for decision-making and action and be separate from the vast amounts of the workforce, economic, and business data available.

List highlighting 5 important data considerations: all-encompassing, dynamic, predictive, contextual, visualized

Put simply; actionable data empowers WDBs to:

    • Predict the health of a business
    • Target with more precision and speed
    • Succeed through early engagement for greater impact for the business, its current and future workforce, and the economy and community in which it operates.


Comparison of Labor Market Data vs. Business Data

Two primary data sources inform WDBs. They include labor market data from LMI and predictive business data from Dun & Bradstreet/EconoVue. While both are excellent data sources, their effectiveness depends on what you want to accomplish. For example, LMI provides a birds-eye view of a community workforce for strategic planning. In comparison, D&B offers a street-level view of community businesses for targeted outreach. The other providers that serve the WDB market also use LMI data.

WDBs benefit best from using a data visualization dashboard that integrates both to accelerate decision making and action. This matrix below highlights the actionable insights available with a dual approach.

Comparison chart highlighting differences between LMI data and D&B/EconoVue data


Labor Market Information (LMI)

LMI compiles statistical data based on surveys. Labor market data projects the changes in the industry and occupational employment over time resulting from industry growth and technological change. For example, the State of California produces long-term (10 years) employment projections every two years for the State and local areas.

Labor market data provides information to WDBs on the workforce population (skills, demographics, education level, etc.) to understand their workforce compared to business needs (skills, credentials, etc.). This insight allows them to develop training programs to meet the demand. The challenge is to develop programs and ramp them up before the criteria and job criteria change.

LMI is expansive in scope and ideal for strategic planning amongst individual groups. Groups include job seekers, case managers, employers, economic development, education partners, workforce boards, etc. LMI is your go-to resource if you need a high-level overview of employment and wage information over time.

LMI data, however, has its challenges. First and foremost, the data is not truly “actionable” since it is aggregated and developed through surveys. Secondly, the data represents a small fraction of the larger business community. And finally, it only offers a point-in-time sample of large companies. It does not allow real-time or forward-looking views to identify targeted businesses for outreach and engagement. For these reasons, you simply can’t make decisions with LMI data.

Therefore, LMI data is best for broad and overarching strategic planning (e.g., healthcare is a growing sector in all local workforce areas), not targeted outreach where specific and actionable data is required. 


Dun & Bradstreet/EconoVue  

When it comes to a genuinely actionable data source, WDBs should leverage up-to-date, predictive business insights from Dun & Bradstreet; all mapped on EconoVue’s intuitive dashboard. WDBs can quickly see a path forward and accelerate decision-making with this tool. WDBs can know what is happening in their local areas with a street-level view of your business community. Understand the health of businesses in your community – who is growing or struggling for more targeted outreach. Reach the right contact at the companies for that outreach. Know what sectors are growing or shrinking or what occupations are expanding. All of these insights result in immediate action for WDBs.

This powerful dashboard offers a variety of views – employment by state and LWIA, employment by sectors, business view of financial stress and material change, and designated regional or local map views with links to specific industries, companies, job listings, and contact information.

All data offers perspective. Only actionable data points you in the right direction with these insights:

    • Businesses that are driving the growth or declining in your local workforce area
    • Understanding of the business cycle of a specific company (expansion, stable, or contraction)
    • The financial strength of the business to tailor your engagement strategy for each company
    • Street-level data of each business to improve your outreach efforts with address, contact information, number of employees, occupations, etc.
    • Sectors that are changing within your footprint – and the resulting business impact
    • All of the above is quickly filtered and mapped by business location.

This type of actionable information enables you to initiate an informed conversation and targeted engagement strategy with each business. It enables the successful implementation of a proactive engagement strategy. As a result, WDBs can achieve and exceed their performance goals and positively impact people’s lives while serving the businesses in your community.


Actionable data in a multi-layered filtering platform is the GPS for WDBs.

Workforce development professionals who leverage actionable data in a multi-layered filtering platform can know the best path forward in seconds. Actionable data in an intuitive dashboard is a GPS for WDBs as it provides a clear direction to get to your destination. That destination could be a proactive business engagement or informed prospecting for rapid response or a struggling business.

WDBs can benefit significantly from an interactive dashboard that quickly filters the millions of businesses in the U.S. based on designated region, business health, sector, or other criteria – and pinned on a map to fuel rapid decision making.

WDBs should not get lost on the highway of analysis paralysis. Or meander their way to destinations with paper maps. Spreadsheets are like a traffic jam, stuck for hours with no way out. This GPS approach is a game-changer for WDBs. This dashboard allows precision in determining who to call or visit and why. It speeds to a destination by driving the right strategies and zooms in for more street-level business information.

Actionable, predictive business data is your GPS. It is where the rubber meets the road. This approach is how WDBs can transform their workforce development plans and strategies into action and results. The best plans show us where we want to go and the best way to arrive at our destination.