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Some clouds tonight

Some clouds tonight will give way to mostly clear skies overnight.18F lower.Northwest wind, 10 to 15 mph.
Some clouds tonight will give way to mostly clear skies overnight.18F lower.West-northwesterly, 10 to 15 mph.
INDIANA – What we’ve seen after COVID-19 – supply chain issues, the need for more employees and businesses to change what and how much they sell – are signs of change.
However, Ball State University economist Michael Hicks said it may be too early to know exactly what all this means for businesses, the economy and our society.
“I think it will take 20 to 30 years to sort through the changes brought about by COVID,” Hicks said.
U.S. production peaked in the second quarter of 2021, although data for the third quarter are not yet available.There is huge demand for goods made in this country, but the volume and funding of imported goods are also hitting new highs.
The problem is that the supply chain is adapting to a huge increase in demand, and the people delivering the goods are looking for people to hire.
“If I’m having trouble moving cargo, I’ll move something more valuable first,” he said.
That would put computer chips waiting for vehicles ahead of the likes of fruit from Mexico.Even with priorities, there is a wait for vehicles and other items that require computer chips.
Cass County started its own ambulance and emergency medical services on December 15.But with computer chips scarce, it started using borrowed vehicles and borrowed radios, while new ambulances ordered in the fall are expected to arrive in April.
Bill Thompson, owner of Mike Anderson Automotive Group in Indiana, said his dealership is turning things around in favor of customers.
“While the computer chips needed for vehicles remain a serious supply chain issue, we’re finding that vehicles ordered will be built faster than dealer stockpiles, allowing customers to get exactly what they’re looking for,” Thompson said.
Used car prices have risen due to a shortage of new cars.It also increases transaction value, giving customers more equity when they trade-in or sell their vehicles to dealers, Thompson said.
There are also supply issues on the service and parts side of the business, especially those that use computer chips, he said.
Adding to this logistical situation is the trucking industry’s struggle to find qualified drivers.
“It’s a struggle for everyone, including us,” said Tracey Foutz, manager of Logansport’s Gangloff Industries.
The company primarily works with Tyson Foods and ships to Indiana and surrounding states, as far as Kansas.
Gangloff hasn’t seen more demand and has always operated within the maximum capacity the company can handle, Foutz said.
The demand for drivers has become so strong that owner Randy Ferguson has been driving the truck for more than six months, she said.The company has also been relying on other freight and logistics companies for help, she added.
Logansport’s D&R Fruit Market manager Neil Stewart said shipping logistics would also affect the grocery business.
“Trucks are hard to come by,” Stewart said.”It’s hard to get some pop due to the lack of drivers to run these routes.”
He discusses priorities with suppliers, and stores usually receive items, but sometimes those items don’t make the first truck.
Stewart said they can’t get Dole salads at all, and some suppliers are closing.Stewart said the company that makes the popular cocktail rye bread is apparently shutting down permanently due to a lack of ingredients.
A big reason for the increased demand for goods is that consumers have more money, Hicks said.They happened for two reasons: they received stimulus checks, and they spent less on things like vacations and eating out.
Harvard’s Opportunity Insight website, which tracks credit card usage, shows that people started spending less before distancing and businesses closing, he said.
Some who didn’t have decided to retire during the 2020 shutdown, while others opted to retire early — in part because of a booming economy.
This makes it easier for workers younger than the traditional 65 to retire.People who are unemployed at 62 may see retirement as an option.
People have also started their own businesses, from being an Uber or Lyft driver to making products like candles and crafts, to providing services related to marketing and advertising.
Other potential workers have not returned because they are not applying for jobs now because they fear the virus or that their children may need to go home to study on the computer.
Those who have contracted the coronavirus and have long-term symptoms unable to return to work have also reduced the workforce.
“That’s led to a drop in employment because they can’t go back to work,” said Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.”These figures are validated by disability insurance claims.”
In a recent news conference, state officials were told not only would there be more life insurance claims, but more disability claims, he added.
Farooq Shah, CEO of Midwest First Star Inc., which owns 33 Hardee’s restaurants in Indiana and Ohio, said his company has been hit hard at every store.
“(It) kills us,” he said.”Even if you pay double, you can’t find staff.”
To attract more employees, they went from using two online job sites to five, more than doubling the cost.The company will also pay employees daily rather than bi-weekly if they so choose.
Even when the chain does hire people, new hires often don’t show up or just change shifts.
He’s optimistic he’ll see more applicants now that the holidays are over, and has seen that in some places.
They’ve removed some items from the menu, and when the lobby is closed, they only need minimal staff, a chef, and a cashier to drive around.
Ivy Tech has been preparing for the changes ahead of the pandemic, with schools in the Kokomo area announcing on Dec. 22 that they will be opening classes in January to prepare students for jobs in supply chain and logistics.
The project was already underway before “supply chain” became a household word, and the expected graduation date for the program’s first cohort of students is May 2023.
“Everything Ivy Tech does is based on community needs,” said Kokomo Campus Principal Dean McCurdy.
Schools listen to students and area employers, and the pandemic has exposed a void Ivy Tech is trying to fill.
Technology has evolved during the pandemic, and even before that, schools were offering education in cybersecurity, smart manufacturing, and digital integration, as well as expanding medical curricula.
“The conversation we’re having today is very interesting and very different from 20 years ago,” McCurdy said.
Economist Hicks said a major cultural change is that more and more people are doing – and will be doing – remote work.
According to his research, from 2017 to 2020, remote worker jobs accounted for an average of 1% to 1.5% of job advertisements, mostly for call centers or software editors.
He predicts that as remote work increases, couples will have one person whose job requires them to be present, while the other has skills that can work almost anywhere, such as medical staff.
Hicks also sees more couples working remotely, going to the office once or twice a week, so there are always parents at home.
If people only go to the office once a week, an hour-and-a-half drive isn’t bad — especially if they’re paying for housing in a small town rather than a big city, he said.
This means Indiana must aggressively provide broadband internet access to all rural areas and seek grants for this and other matters.

Post time: Jan-10-2022

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