According to data published by the High Country Workforce Development Board, more of the county’s workforce is going to other counties for employment.
In data published by the HCWDB’s 2013 High Country Workforce Databook, 49.2 percent of the working Ashe County population live and work in their county.
Rebecca Bloomquist, of the development board, said the trends could be because of many factors.
“(Working outside of the county) could be because of job loss, it could be business closures and things of that nature,” she said.
The databook covers information for Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties.
Despite the low percentage, it remains the third highest in the High Country area, trailing Watauga (63.4 percent) and Wilkes (55 percent) counties. Yancey County had the lowest percentage with 38.6 percent.
The data, provided by the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) data in the 2010 U.S. Census, shows a decline from 2003 to 2010. In 2003, over 60 percent of the working population lived and worked in the county.
Bloomquist said the information is not being used for any direct purpose by them, but to help governments in the High Country have the data available to them.
“We are using this to provide and show where folks are living and working,” Bloomquist said. “We just use it to show a percentage.”
Most of the commuting workforce within Ashe works in Watauga County, with 15.3 percent of county workers finding jobs there. Ashe residents also work in Wilkes, Wake, Buncombe, Mecklenburg and Catawba counties.
While there are people that do work there, Bloomquist said there could be different reasons for counties such as Wake having a high number of Ashe workers. For instance, a company may be based in Raleigh and the worker covers a market which includes Ashe County, or people could be working from home.
“Sometimes that could mean that folks are working for home,” she said. “The way that the data is collection, the question is asked ‘Do you work in this county?’ If they only worked in Ashe County for one day of the year, they could count that as far as the data goes.”
Data also shows Ashe County being a commuter area for Alleghany County workers, with 5.3 percent of their workers commuting to Ashe for employment.