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NWI State of the Workforce and Economic Indicators

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The biennial State of the Workforce and Economic Indicators Report for Northwest Indiana was presented in Merrillville at the end of April. Put on by the Center of Workforce Innovations (CWI) and the Northwest Indiana Forum, the report presents an overall look at population, workforce, education and economic trends in the seven-county area of Northwest Indiana.

Bob Schaefer, Northwest Indiana Workforce Board member as well as president of Community Dynamics, presented the report before a full room of local economic development and education leaders, as well as business owners, community organization and representatives for Senator Donnelly, Senator Young and Indiana Senator Eddie Melton.

According to the report, though the region remains high performing and improving in some areas, such as education, it still falls behind in many others. Though not particular to NWI alone, an aging population is a serious concern, with a seven percent shift in the population in the 45+ age group between 2000 and 2015. The size of the labor force has also remained flat for at least the past ten years, and regional wages—though steadily trending up—trail the state and nation, on average.

The report suggests seven actions that the region should undertake to address some of these concerns, with a particular focus on skills development and employer engagement to build opportunities and retain younger population in the region.

The full report is available for download here: http://www.innovativeworkforce.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/StateoftheWorkforceReport-2016Final.pdf

Following the presentation was a panel discussion on how to find solutions to the regional issues raised in the report. The six panelists, who included Heather Ennis of the NWI Forum and Don Babcock of NIPSCO Economic Development as well as other experts from Purdue, Ivy Tech, One Region and the superintendent of Hobart’s schools, discussed:

  • Leveraging Transportation-Oriented Development
  • Accelerating population growth
  • Enhancing quality of place
  • Increasing labor force participation
  • Developing the existing workforce

In her closing remarks, President and CEO Linda Woloshansky of the Center of Workforce Innovations emphasized that the solution to many of these issues lies not just within the active groups themselves, the educators and the economic developers, but in ongoing and enhanced collaboration among all of these groups if the NWI region is to not just overcome but thrive in the years to come.

One addition over previous State of the Workforce and Regional Indicators reports is the integration of interactive data online. Much of the data included in the report can be further investigated via: http://www.innovativeworkforce.com/charts/.

Linda Woloshansky, President & CEO

Center of Workforce Innovations

www.innovativeworkforce.com

 

Heather Ennis, President & CEO

Northwest Indiana Forum

www.nwiforum.org