94 years of economic insights for Indiana

The IBR is a publication of the Indiana Business Research Center at IU's Kelley School of Business

Fort Wayne Forecast 2015

Director, Community Research Institute, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne

Labor force dynamics in 2014 have brought continued improvements to Metro Fort Wayne (Allen, Whitley and Wells counties). Fort Wayne’s labor force grew by 2.9 percent between August 2013 and August 2014 (+6,036), compared to 1.7 percent growth statewide, with more rapid growth occurring within its employed segment (see Table 1).

Table 1: Labor Force Dynamics

August Labor Force Employed Unemployed
Fort Wayne MSA Indiana Fort Wayne MSA Indiana Fort Wayne MSA Indiana
2004 210,281 3,175,566 199,695 3,010,515 10,586 165,051
2005 213,797 3,223,917 203,304 3,054,916 10,493 169,001
2006 217,855 3,255,512 207,291 3,090,673 10,564 164,839
2007 213,374 3,228,578 203,051 3,082,008 10,323 146,570
2008 215,041 3,267,312 202,158 3,069,863 12,883 197,449
2009 209,812 3,192,701 187,419 2,864,155 22,393 328,546
2010 210,469 3,185,787 189,738 2,876,136 20,731 309,651
2011 208,846 3,186,349 190,289 2,898,812 18,557 287,537
2012 205,929 3,166,240 189,670 2,908,832 16,259 257,408
2013 206,754 3,190,560 192,606 2,959,470 14,148 231,090
2014 212,790 3,245,079 202,282 3,067,111 10,508 177,968
Change: 2006-14 -2.3% -0.3% -2.4% -0.8% -0.5% 8.0%
Change: 2013-14 2.9% 1.7% 5.0% 3.6% -25.7% -23.0%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (not seasonally adjusted)

Continuing a four-year trend, the metro area’s unemployment rate (4.9 percent) remains well below that for the state (5.5 percent) and the nation (6.3 percent), as shown in Figure 1.1 However, the metro area’s labor force remains 2.3 percent below (-5,065) its pre-recession peak in 2006. Fort Wayne will likely surpass this benchmark in 2015.

Figure 1: August Employment Growth and Unemployment

figure 1

Note: Percentages denote year-over-year employment growth.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (not seasonally adjusted)

Metro Fort Wayne’s employment growth surged ahead in 2014 adding 6,700 new jobs (see Figure 1). This represents the strongest one-year change in the last decade at 3.2 percent. Fort Wayne employment (217,000) remains just 1,700 below its pre-recession peak in 2006 (218,700).

Meanwhile, Indiana has surpassed its 2006 employment, adding 48,700 jobs to Indiana’s economy. Growth has been concentrated within the Indianapolis, Columbus and Lafayette metro areas (see Table 2).

Table 2: Employment Change by Metro Area

  August 2014 August 2006 Numeric Change Percent Change
Columbus 50,800 44,600 6,200 14%
Lafayette 96,800 90,500 6,300 7%
Indianapolis 966,100 905,600 60,500 7%
Indiana 3,006,900 2,958,200 48,700 2%
Muncie 51,000 51,100 -100 0%
Gary 273,600 275,200 -1,600 -1%
Evansville 178,000 179,300 -1,300 -1%
Fort Wayne 217,000 218,700 -1,700 -1%
Terre Haute 70,900 72,200 -1,300 -2%
Anderson 41,600 42,500 -900 -2%
Bloomington 79,000 81,200 -2,200 -3%
Kokomo 46,100 47,900 -1,800 -4%
Elkhart-Goshen 125,400 133,200 -7,800 -6%
South Bend 133,800 143,600 -9,800 -7%
Michigan City–La Porte 41,700 46,600 -4,900 -11%

Note: These data are preliminary.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (not seasonally adjusted)

Manufacturing and health care continue to serve as cornerstones for job growth in metro Fort Wayne. Of the 6,700 new jobs in the region, 2,800 jobs were added in professional and business services and 2,200 in manufacturing (see Table 3).

Table 3: Employment by Industry

Industry Fort Wayne MSA Indiana
August 2014 August 2013 Numeric Change Percent Change Numeric Change Percent Change
Total 217,000 210,300 6,700 3.2% 60,400 2.0%
Professional and Business Services (includes temp services) 23,400 20,600 2,800 13.6% 7,100 2.3%
Manufacturing 36,700 34,500 2,200 6.4% 20,100 4.1%
Private Educational and Health Services 37,900 36,900 1,000 2.7% 5,200 1.2%
Other Services 11,200 10,400 800 7.7% 5,100 4.3%
Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities 9,500 9,300 200 2.2% 2,200 1.6%
Leisure and Hospitality 20,300 20,100 200 1.0% 8,800 2.9%
Information 3,200 3,200 0 0.0% -700 -1.9%
Financial Activities 11,800 11,800 0 0.0% 2,100 1.6%
Government (includes public schools and hospitals) 20,700 20,700 0 0.0% 3,500 0.9%
Retail Trade 21,900 22,000 -100 -0.5% -2,800 -0.9%
Natural Resources, Mining and Construction 9,700 9,900 -200 -2.0% 7,100 5.2%
Wholesale Trade 10,700 10,900 -200 -1.8% 2,700 2.3%

Note: Table is sorted by MSA numeric change.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (not seasonally adjusted)

An examination of more granular quarterly data reveals that Fort Wayne has registered strong growth in temporary employment services, a subsector within professional and business services. The feedback from workforce development partners suggests that a large proportion of the temp workers are employed with regional manufacturers. Continued diversification and growth in other high-wage sectors remains a long-term challenge for the region.

Looking Ahead to 2015

We expect job growth of about 2 percent in 2015. Issues like health care reform, demand for durable goods, the state budget and interest rates will continue to play important roles in Fort Wayne’s economic performance. As the labor market continues to tighten, this will put wage pressures on employers in order to find the workers they need. However, if employers are unwilling or unable to raise wages, disengaged workers may not find the incentive they need to re-enter the labor force. While unemployment rates may be driven further down in 2015, they will likely remain in the 4.0 percent to 5.0 percent range.

Notes

  1. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. August 2014. Not seasonally adjusted.