FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Despite the pandemic, employers in northeast Indiana continued to hire to keep their operations afloat.
Director of Communication for Northeast Indiana Works told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that Indiana is in the same situation it was prior to the pandemic: the Hoosier state has a shortage of workers.
“That situation hasn’t changed, the pandemic exacerbated this, because we had a drop in the labor force,” Rick Farrant said. “While the employment rate has fallen significantly below the double digit unemployment percentage as we saw in northeast Indiana during the initial months of the pandemic, people have been bowing out of the workforce.”
According to Farrant, the reason people are leaving the labor force is likely due to a number of factors. Among them: some people choosing to retire to better ride out the pandemic, or some two earner families going to one earner to accommodate childcare or remote learning.
He added that there may be some people who lost their jobs who may be waiting until similar jobs open up again.
“There were 13,459 job openings in northeast Indiana, in mid December and 124,589 statewide. We’ve seen hiring in manufacturing, health care, transportation, logistics, and a few other industries,” Farrant said.
The industries that continue to be hit hard from the pandemic are retail and food and entertainment.
Based on the numbers through November 2020, the unemployment rate for Northeast Indiana was 4.4% compared to 3% pre-pandemic. For the state it was 4.9 and for the nation it’s 6.4.
“It’s really hard to predict what the future is going to hold because we’re not out of the woods on this yet. Some of the questions that we have is will people who left the workforce stay out of the workforce or will they come back,” said Farrant. “Will more businesses that have been hanging on close up shop. The truth is, we just don’t know.”
Farrant added that it’s easy to look at the unemployment numbers and say it’s good and employers are hiring; but there are people who were hit hard by the pandemic and even if they are back to work, they probably have not recovered.
For a listing of job openings, click here.