Study: Some local job markets near pre-pandemic levels

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT
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INDIANA (WNDU) - As the nation recovers from the pandemic, local job markets are seeing some rebound.

A new study commissioned by the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership found Elkhart and Marshall Counties are approaching pre-COVID annual average employment and unemployment levels, which outpaces the statewide rate of recovery.

Kate Lee, executive director of education and workforce for South Bend Regional Chamber, noted St. Joseph County unemployment numbers are also very low.

“I think that the, the trends reflect the disruption of the last couple of years and this kind of ongoing realignment of education and workforce and what that looks like in our community,” said Lee.

Lee said there are many opens jobs partly because the pandemic has shifted the workplace.

“So we’re trying to both predict the future and fill current needs at the same time. And that requires the industry to work really well with our educators, both in the K through 12 space and post-secondary,” she explained.

Elkhart Chamber CEO Levon Johnson says the number of open jobs right now is affected by a skills gap.

“As work continues to change, the skills needed for the work that’s happening continues to increase, and even though a college education may not necessarily be required, making sure that you have the certification and the skills to do the work that is coming and is here is a big deal,” remarked Johnson.

Lee says there are plenty of places - like Ivy Tech and Work One - that can help people increase their skillsets.

“We just have to figure out how to connect all the dots and make sure that people who do want to work and have the capacity to work are engaging with the employers who have these great opportunities for them,” Lee said.

As for attracting the skilled, Johnson emphasized the need for enough housing.

“If we are not able to expand our housing stock, whether that be single-family or multifamily housing, that will be the biggest impediment to our continued growth in our projections,” Johnson said.

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