Indiana’s Elkhart County has two problems that most people would expect to fix each other: Unemployment persists above 8%, while at the same time employers are having a harder and harder time filling open positions ranging from technical to basic production.
While there are many thoughts about the problem, there are no clear-cut answers so far, according to a report in the Elkhart Truth.
What’s the problem?
While Elkhart County’s unemployment rate has dropped drastically since the recession, it was still 8.4% in September, well above national and state averages.
Despite that, Mike Hoover, president of KIB Electronics in Elkhart, said it’s getting tougher to hire people. “It’s starting to tighten up a little bit. Up until now we’ve had a really good pool,” he said.
Bill Faubion, director of engineering at the company, said in conversations with their manufacturing director, “A year ago he could sometimes interview five or six people and hire two people. Now they interview 16 to 20 and hire two.”
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The number of the unemployed Indiana grew slightly last month while remaining well below the national average, according to an Associated Press report.
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development said Friday (July 22) that 8.3% of the state’s workforce, or about 267,000 people, applied for unemployment benefits in June. That figure was 8.2% in May.
The unemployment rate for Elkhart County, home to the recreational vehicle industry’s manufacturing hub, was 10.2% in June, the fifth highest in the state. Neighboring St. Joseph County’s was 9.9%.
The national unemployment rate for June was 9.2%.
Indiana’s unemployment rate peaked at 10.6% in June 2009 and has been below double digits since last October.
State officials say private education and health service sectors added 1,300 jobs last month. The hospitality industry shed 3,800 jobs while the manufacturing sector lost 1,700 jobs.
Indiana’s May unemployment rate of 8.2% remained unchanged from the previous month, the state’s Department of Workforce Development said Friday morning. Unemployment in Elkhart County, the hub of the recreational vehicle manufacturing sector, was also the same as April at 10.1%.
The Indianapolis Business Journal reported that the jobless rate — based on the number of Hoosiers filing for unemployment claims — remained steady, though Indiana saw total employment fall by 5,200 from April to May. Government and trade, transportation and utilities showed the most significant declines.
The state gained 1,700 private-sector jobs during the month. Sectors adding jobs included private education and health services, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and construction.
Because the state’s unemployment rate has been at or below 8.5% for three consecutive months, Indiana is no longer eligible for a portion of extended unemployment benefits, DWD Commissioner Mark W. Everson said. The rate dropped from 8.5% in March to 8.2% in April.
As a result, unemployed Hoosiers will be eligible for up to 93 weeks of unemployment benefits instead of 99 weeks, Everson said.
The nation’s unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage points in May, to 9.1%.
Indiana had the lowest unemployment rate in the Midwest in May. It was followed by Ohio at 8.6%, Illinois at 8.9%, Kentucky at 9.8% and Michigan at 10.3%.