During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Boone County — just northwest of Indianapolis — saw the highest percent growth in jobs of anywhere in the state. That’s even as 84 of Indiana's 92 counties hemorrhaged jobs due to economic uncertainty.
The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages shows that between March 2020 and March 2021, the county filled 3,500 jobs — growing by more than 10 percent. Even the runner up, Elkhart County, only saw 3.5 percent growth in jobs thanks to an increased demand for recreational vehicles. However, Elkhart County did add a larger raw number of jobs.
The QCEW is different from local unemployment rates. The employment census measures the numbers of jobs, not workers, disclosed by businesses on quarterly reports. Local unemployment rates are calculated via a monthly phone survey to extrapolate how many people are currently working or looking for work, irrespective of jobs.
Molly Whitehead, executive director of the Boone County Economic Development Corporation, said the county has a concentration in logistics and shipping, food manufacturing and even multiple cardboard box factories — all industries that have seen demand skyrocket due to social distancing measures. Whitehead said now those companies and others are looking to grow.
“Now, the lead activity that we’re seeing is incredible, overwhelming almost to a point,” she said.
She said the challenge now is a common one across the state: getting workers the right skills to fill all those jobs.