Experts confused with surplus of job openings as Indiana’s unemployment rate is similar to pre-pandemic

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — With Indiana’s unemployment rate similar to pre-pandemic numbers, a surplus of job openings is causing confusion among experts.

“There are a lot of unknowns,” Rachel Blakeman said. “We don’t know and I think we need to be okay with that because I think that often there’s data for everything and that if we just look hard enough we can understand it. We are living in unprecedented times.”

Rachel Blakeman, the director of Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Community Research Institute, says that currently there is a ‘misalignment of jobs’ due in part to the pandemic. The ‘misalignment’ is where the eligible unemployed don’t meet the demands of the job market.

Driving around Fort Wayne, WANE 15 did not have trouble finding business with help wanted and hiring signs. Indiana’s recent unemployment rate is 3.9%.

But with unemployment decreasing is there an abundance of jobs or not enough workers? Experts say they don’t know.

A reason is that they don’t know how many people have disengaged from the labor market for an extended period of time or perhaps permanently. That’s because Blakeman says the pandemic caused workers to rethink and reevaluate their life and priorities.

Experts say the numbers for groups like the Baby Boomer population getting older, women who left the workforce or started working from home to watch their children, and those who lost their job, are currently on unemployment and waiting for another job opportunity are simply not there.
And it could be months before data shows if those groups will return to the workforce.

“What we can say is that anybody who wants to work, the priority is to have a job that pays you for the work that you do, you have plenty of options,” Blakeman said. “The question is are those the right options for you. Are you going to feel like you are getting paid fairly? Are you making enough to keep a roof over your head? Those are all questions that are yet to be resolved.”

Because of the misalignment of jobs, several employers are raising wages. But will that affect inflation and ultimately lead to you getting a raise? Experts say only time will tell because there’s not enough information yet.

The last time we saw inflation like what we are seeing was back in the 70s.

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