FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Unemployment numbers are in for December and Northeast Indiana has hit another unprecedented low for the region.

The Department of Workforce Development has updated the statewide unemployment rate to 1.3-percent, with some counties falling even lower than that. Local experts say when looking at Indiana unemployment rates historically, the numbers are “absurdly low,” despite plenty of companies looking to fill jobs.

Rachel Blakeman, Director of Purdue Fort Wayne’s Community Research Institute, said employers are telling the truth when they say hiring is a struggle right now but the solution may not be a quick fix.

“We can anticipate that workers who were coming close to retirement decided to leave the workforce- retirement started to look very attractive to people in 2021,” Blakeman said. “We can anticipate, especially in recent months because childcare centers are having to close temporarily because of COVID exposures, difficulty finding new openings because childcare centers haven’t historically paid well and so their workers may be deciding that it’s time to go work for Amazon, or Sweetwater or something, another employer who can pay more.”

According to Blakeman, people retiring and choosing to leave the workplace have contributed to getting Northeast Indiana to its lowest unemployment numbers to date. Allen County has the highest rate of unemployment in the eleven county area, matching the statewide rate at just 1.3%, while LaGrange County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at .7%.

“From the perspective of under 1% unemployment, this is simply unheard of, so I can’t say well, the last time when we were below 1% unemployment, here’s how it played out,” said Blakeman. “We’re making this up as we go along.”

Blakeman and Northeast Indiana Works agree that the answer may be for employers to tap into underutilized groups.

“If we think about who would have been that work that employers may have overlooked in the past,” Blakeman. “People with criminal records, people who can’t pass a drug test, people who have a disability who may need accommodations at work, suddenly, those workers should become very attractive, so long as there’s not legal reasons why you can’t [hire them].”

Northeast Indiana Works is also recommending employers look towards internships and apprenticeships and to fill positions.