Slump sets Hoosier job levels back 14 years

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Year In Review

At least the worst appears to be over. The economy in 2009 was the most painful in many people’s memories—rivaling the misery of the infamous Rust Belt years more than a generation earlier.

Indiana took a shellacking as businesses desperate to survive the recession laid off swaths of workers. The economic decline, which started gaining momentum in late 2008, went into steep descent before leveling off in mid- to late summer.

How bad was it? The 131,000 jobs lost in the 12 months ended in November amounted to a 7.2-percent decline and were nearly equivalent to the combined populations of Carmel and Fishers.

Automotive, recreational vehicles and other transportation-related sectors—the state’s bread and butter, absorbed massive hits.

Transportation-related manufacturing jobs absorbed massive hits this year. (IBJ File Photo)

The carnage ran so deep that the nearly 2.8 million jobs the state has left are the fewest of any time since 1995.

The Indianapolis area fared better. Employment withered 3.7 percent in the past year, to 873,000.

Part of the loss resulted from the decision by Illinois-based Navistar International Corp. to close its longtime engine-block plant on the east side, throwing nearly 1,400 out of work.

The good news, Ball State University economist Michael Hicks said, is that Indiana’s economy will improve in 2010, driven by gains in manufacturing, transportation, construction and information technology.

He said the state economy will show slow but steady growth through all four quarters of next year, but employment numbers won’t return to pre-recession levels until 2011 or 2012.

Hicks said Indianapolis will continue to be the state’s economic engine, attracting top employers and workers from around the country. However, smaller cities will not see this rapid growth due to an aging labor force and structural changes in key sectors of their economy, Hicks said.

The Ball State analysis calls for manufacturing to expand 1.24 percent in the first quarter, 1.96 percent in the second, 2.41 percent in the third and then drop to a still respectable 1.76 in the final three months of the year.

Hicks predicted a challenging future for many of the workers who lost manufacturing jobs during the recession.

“We have thousands of older people who spent decades working in moderate- to low-skilled positions in manufacturing operations around the state. Many of these workers suffer significant skill deficits in today’s workplace,” he said.•



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  1. In reality, Lilly is maintaining profit by cutting costs such as Indiana/US citizen IT workers by a significant amount with their Tata Indian consulting connection, increasing Indian H1B's at Lillys Indiana locations significantly and offshoring to India high paying Indiana jobs to cut costs and increase profit at the expense of U.S. workers.

  2. I think perhaps there is legal precedence here in that the laws were intended for family farms, not pig processing plants on a huge scale. There has to be a way to squash this judges judgment and overrule her dumb judgement. Perhaps she should be required to live in one of those neighbors houses for a month next to the farm to see how she likes it. She is there to protect the people, not the corporations.

  3. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/03-111.htm Corporate farms are not farms, they are indeed factories on a huge scale. The amount of waste and unhealthy smells are environmentally unsafe. If they want to do this, they should be forced to buy a boundary around their farm at a premium price to the homeowners and landowners that have to eat, sleep, and live in a cesspool of pig smells. Imagine living in a house that smells like a restroom all the time. Does the state really believe they should take the side of these corporate farms and not protect Indiana citizens. Perhaps justifiable they should force all the management of the farms to live on the farm itself and not live probably far away from there. Would be interesting to investigate the housing locations of those working at and managing the corporate farms.

  4. downtown in the same area as O'malia's. 350 E New York. Not sure that another one could survive. I agree a Target is needed d'town. Downtown Philly even had a 3 story Kmart for its downtown residents.

  5. Indy-area residents... most of you have no idea how AMAZING Aurelio's is. South of Chicago was a cool pizza place... but it pales in comparison to the heavenly thin crust Aurelio's pizza. Their deep dish is pretty good too. My waistline is expanding just thinking about this!