(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana’s facing a new twist on an old problem: finding enough skilled workers to fill available jobs.
Like the rest of the U.S., Indiana has seen an increase in workers leaving the labor force, whether because of COVID fears, to take care of their kids, or because they’ve decided to retire early, Governor Holcomb says the state’s trying to find ways to lure them back.
Holcomb says part of the solution lies in making people aware of new opportunities. He describes the state as a “concierge” for new businesses setting up shop, working through groups like university alumni associations to match businesses’ needs wih workers who can fit them. He says the READI regional economic development fund created last year allows a more regional focus.
Even before the pandemic, Indiana was trying to expand the skills of the existing workforce. Holcomb says Indiana has filled some labor needs through people moving into the state.
And Holcomb says the labor shortage shows the need for Congress to pass immigration reform that keeps drugs and human traffickers out while welcoming workers in. Holcomb says the government needs to break a logjam of millions of people waiting to get work visas.
Indiana’s labor force participation rate had been inching downward for three years even before the pandemic, and has yet to return to its pre-pandemic level of 64%. The rate has edged up the last two months to 62.4%, the highest in eight months.