As Hoosiers, we received disappointing news last week for our friends, family and neighbors. Carrier Corp. in Indianapolis and United Technologies Electronic Controls Inc. in Huntington announced that they will be phasing down their Indiana manufacturing operations, impacting more than 2,100 Hoosier workers.
Losing a job is a trying situation, which is why we stand by every Hoosier affected by this move. Under Governor Pence’s direction, the state has made it our utmost priority to provide Hoosiers with the resources to find another quality job here in Indiana as quickly as possible. That starts with the Department of Workforce Development’s Rapid Response services, already deployed, which are providing free job hunting, training and education services at WorkOne offices.
Meanwhile, our team at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) is identifying similar employers in the communities affected, discussing job opportunities they may have for Carrier and UTEC employees. Fortunately, here in Indiana, those opportunities keep growing, with companies looking to fill thousands of open positions across the state right now. And with Indiana carrying the highest concentration of private sector manufacturing jobs in the nation, Carrier and UTEC employees boast knowledge and skills that are in high demand.
In fact, Indiana has added a total of 140,500 private sector jobs since just January 2013, with more Hoosiers now working than ever before in Indiana history. Within the context of our low unemployment rate of just 4.4 percent – lower than the national rate as well as all of our neighboring states – you’ll see that the climate for Hoosier job seekers is strong. Our low unemployment rate means that companies are paying higher wages to compete for the best workers. In fact, just last year the IEDC received commitments from companies to create 26,555 Hoosier jobs in the coming years that are expected to pay an average wage of more than $51,000 a year.
And with those higher wage jobs, our workforce development efforts are focused on making sure Hoosiers have the skills to fill those jobs. From K-12 to higher education and beyond, Indiana is developing technology-based solutions to align education and training resources now and into the future, ensuring we are teaching the right skills at the right time in the right way to meet demand. That effort continues with the launch earlier this week of Indiana’s “You Can. Go Back.” program, making it easier for adults to re-enroll in college and finish degree programs. And with Governor Pence’s Regional Cities Initiative, we’re making quality of place investments in our state’s regions that will help keep that skilled workforce here in our state.
In recent years, it’s become clear that Indiana is a great place to find a job because, as a state, we’ve created a business climate where job creators choose to operate. Hoosier personal income taxes have been cut and corporate rates have been reduced under Governor Pence’s leadership. He also saw to it that our unemployment insurance trust fund loan accumulated during the recession was repaid. That means that instead of sending $327 million to the federal government in 2016, Hoosier businesses will be able to hire additional workers, give deserving employees raises or have the capital they need to expand.
Sometimes companies make decisions that have more to do with national economic issues than anything we’re doing here at home. Carrier and UTEC aren’t moving their operations to another state – they’re moving across country lines. Here in Indiana, it’s our top priority to ensure quality jobs for all Hoosiers, and we will not rest until then. To the employees, loved ones and communities affected by this news, know that we stand with you and are working tirelessly to create new opportunities and build a stronger Indiana.
Steve Braun is commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Victor Smith is Indiana’s Secretary of Commerce.