Local News

Fort Wayne Losing STEM jobs Since 2001

INDIANAPOLIS (AP): Indiana’s efforts to add high-tech jobs have paid off in Indianapolis and surrounding counties – at the expense of the rest of the state, a newspaper analysis has found.

A review of U.S. Labor stats by Indianapolis Business Journal shows Indianapolis had 39 percent more jobs in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math – in 2012 than in 2001. That’s more than double the national growth rate of 17 percent.
But the rest of the state saw an increase of just 10 percent, and at least four areas – Muncie, Terre Haute, Fort Wayne and South Bend-Mishawaka – had fewer STEM jobs in 2012 than in 2001.

“Indianapolis is somewhat of a sponge city for the whole region,” said Mark Schill, vice president of research at Praxis Strategy Group, an economic development consultant in North Dakota.

Schill said it’s common for high-tech workers to flock to urban areas from smaller communities or move to college towns, such as Bloomington and Lafayette. In Indiana, Columbus is also a hub because of engine-maker Cummins Inc.
But other areas aren’t faring as well. Indiana is still recovering from hits that major manufacturers suffered that put thousands of engineers out of work or moved their jobs to another state.

The state as a whole also has seen the number of computer-related jobs stagnate in recent years, while it has grown rapidly in Indianapolis.

Even with the shortage outside the Indianapolis area, STEM jobs helped offset losses during the recession. STEM employment increased 4 percent from mid-2009 through 2012, while all other careers were still down 0.1 percent, the IBJ reported.

Derek Redelman, vice president for education and workforce policy at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, said it’s hard to develop government policies that promote STEM fields because researchers disagree on what jobs qualify.

He said government programs, such as an Indiana initiative that provides incentives for four-year state universities to recruit students into STEM fields, need to be broadened to include two-year degrees and certificates.

The state also needs more rank-and-file factory workers with technical certifications, even though they often do

“That is the area that Indiana particularly struggles in,” Redelman said. “Not only are we not at the national average, we’re below the Midwest average. And we have the highest percentage of manufacturing jobs in the country.”

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