State, Chamber Partnering on Opioid Effort

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Pferrer says, while employers want to help associates and their families, "there is no playbook" for dealing with the addiction. Pferrer says, while employers want to help associates and their families, "there is no playbook" for dealing with the addiction.
INDIANAPOLIS -

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Wellness Council of Indiana and Governor Eric Holcomb's administration are teaming up on an effort to combat the opioid epidemic. The groups say the Indiana Workforce Recovery initiative will focus on helping employers provide coverage for substance abuse disorders, expand drug testing and provide effective health resources to employees.

The effort comes as the epidemic continues to take a human and economic toll on the state and the nation. In November, the Indiana University Kelley School of Business said in its 2018 economic forecast that the annual economic impact of the opioid epidemic in Indiana is around $1.5 billion per year. IU has put the addiction crisis at the center of its third $50 million Grand Challenges initiative.

Wellness Council of Indiana Executive Director Jennifer Pferrer says, while employers want to help associates and their families, "there is no playbook" for dealing with the addiction. She says the Indiana Workforce Recovery initiative will provide companies with best practices as well as training on implementation. Pferrer says the goal is to lift the stigma of drug abuse, "instead setting the stage for re-engagement in the workforce."

Organizers say they will unveil specific Indiana Workforce Recovery programs as they are developed.

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      The U.S. unemployment rate has moved down to 3.9 percent, which is its lowest level since December 2000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Great news! Maybe not. There are business sectors that need employees due to constraints in the labor market - namely truck drivers. The level of employment in the truck transportation industry is essentially unchanged since mid-2015, according to the bureau. And the impact is being felt.

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