Over the past three years, the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership has moved full-steam ahead to execute our Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS Plan) with the ultimate goal of matching or exceeding the national per capita personal income by 2025. As we transition into the half-way point of this implementation process, we are pleased to share a unique reflection on the progress the region has made to date, while looking forward to the immense growth to come.
With COVID-19 and its aftermath, there’s no doubt the last few years was chaos for the labor market. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership wanted a deeper understanding on where things stand – and where we are headed – so we recently partnered with Thomas P. Miller & Assoc. for a regional labor market study.
Prior to 2020, our area enjoyed nearly a decade of growth in labor force vitality. Unemployment, employment, and labor force participation numbers were improving. The pandemic disrupted this trend in 2020, but fortunately, 2021 marked a respectable recovery for the region. Elkhart and Marshall counties are approaching pre-COVID annual average employment and unemployment levels, which outpaces the statewide rate of recovery.
The manufacturing, health care, retail trade, and government sectors account for the largest number of jobs in the area, in total making up more than 60 percent of employment in the region. Looking ahead, accommodation and food services, and healthcare/social assistance are expected to add the greatest number of new jobs regionally by 2030, with 3,631 and 3,221 jobs, respectively. One interesting projection is expected growth in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector. This area is predicted to experience the largest percentage of growth over the next decade, with a 65 percent increase in employment. This will bring an estimated 1,300 new jobs. This industry was hit particularly hard by COVID-19, so we are pleased to see this resiliency for our region.
The report also looks at the area “Top Jobs.” The study analyzed a combination of statistics and scored 595 occupations present locally across four measures. The positions were ranked based on current demand, earnings potential, ease of entry, and long-term stability. Among the highest scoring occupations were the fields of product and services sales, engineering, industrial mechanics, nursing, management, and transportation industry specialists.
We found the report insightful and look forward to sharing more of the findings with you. Learn more about the study and its results below.