FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) – Economists at Purdue Fort Wayne say the labor shortages Fort Wayne employers are currently seeing in the labor market will likely last until the end of 2022.
“There is nothing on the horizon that tells us this is going to end anytime soon,” said Rachel Blakeman, director of the Community Research Institute at PFW. “The past, almost two years, has been a big unknown. We continue to live in unprecedented times. “
Blakeman said the unknown centers on the coronavirus pandemic and the economic effects that come with it. However, his economic forecast and that of his colleague were written before the seriousness of the Omicron variant was known.
Barring unforeseen shocks to the entire economy, unemployment is expected to be between 4.8% and around 4% from September 2021 to December 2022. The model predicted a decline from September to November to close 2021 and start 2022 around 4.4%.
The study used employment, wage and population data from 2020 to identify what lies ahead for 2022. Since concluding that Fort Wayne’s tight labor market will continue into next year, Blakeman said employers are going to have to offer more favorable wages and benefits to attract needed workers. .
“Well, I think what employers really need to think about is what makes their positions attractive to the people they’re looking to hire,” Blakeman said. “We are seeing among employers that the promise of overtime does not work as before. So does this offer flexibility in the schedule? Do you put in the hours earlier in the week to have Friday off? We need to remember what motivates workers to go to their jobs and keep their jobs.
Employment in the 11-county area of northeast Indiana declined 5.9% between 2019 and 2020, reflecting a loss of 19,529 jobs. Statewide, employment was down 5.6% and it was down 6.7% nationally.
Since staying home and collecting extra benefits is no longer viable for most people, Blakeman said that the excuse “everyone just wants to stay home and not work” is probably not true. However, some contributing factors could be early retirements, inflationary pressures and supply chain issues.
“You have supply chain challenges that are separate from the workers,” Blakeman said. “So even though you can get people to build trucks at GM, maybe, but you maybe don’t have the chips to put in, so the trucks don’t come down. I can’t go down the supply chain for you and I to buy a new truck this weekend.
Blakeman believes that the population that gets vaccinated is the best place to start to get the economy back on track.
“It’s about our ability to get the virus under control. And it will be at the local level. It will be nationally and internationally, ”said Blakeman. “Obviously, we would love to see people here in the Fort Wayne area get immunized. We have shockingly low vaccination rates. This means that every new variant that appears is going to tear the economy apart. ”