Looking for a job? If you're trained in home health care, retail or construction, your luck may soon change for the better.
A local analyst said those three areas likely will see some of the best job growth in 2014 in Northwest Indiana.
Following the housing crisis from 2007 to 2010, the Region lost more than 31,000 jobs in Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties, said Micah Pollak, assistant professor of economics at Indiana University Northwest.
"Since then, we have recovered about 20,000 jobs," he said. "Employment is up to 274,900 in October 2013, so we have gained back about two-thirds of the jobs lost in the recession."
Now, in 2014, the Region is poised to continue seeing significant job growth in retail trade, healthcare and social assistance, and construction, he said.
"Since the beginning of 2011, over 3,000 jobs in retail were created in Northwest Indiana, surpassing our pre-recession employment in retail," Pollak said.
Healthcare was one of the few industries that saw almost no decline in employment during the last recession, he said.
"Since the beginning of 2007, approximately 4,800 jobs have been added in healthcare and social assistance in Northwest Indiana," Pollak said.
Dayla Randoph, vice president of human resources at Advocate South Suburban Hospital, said in particular, outpatient services and home health care are seeing significant growth.
Randolph said registered nurses and certified nursing assistants are in great demand as more organizations are expanding the scope and expertise of their home care operations.
"As the population ages and hospitals and doctors are incentivized to keep people out of the hospital, home health care is becoming a booming industry," she said.
In 2014, surgical nurses and techs also will be in demand to help staff with outpatient and same-day surgeries, Randoph said.
"Many hospitals and health care organizations will also be looking to associate themselves, or even employ, more primary care physicians, moving forward," she said. "In 2014, and beyond, the focus will be on health and wellness - not just treating sickness and injury."
Primary care doctors are vital in managing the population's overall health and guiding patients to the appropriate care and services they need, Randoph said.
While residential and commercial construction was hit particularly hard by the housing crisis, Pollak said some specific projects, such as the BP Whiting Refinery construction, have helped offset some of these losses.
"Since 2010, the construction industry has added 5,400 jobs to the region," he said.
Among these three areas, Pollak said retail trade is the most promising in his opinion, though notes these jobs are typically lower paying than manufacturing jobs - which was the single industry to lose the most jobs when the recession reduced the demand for steel, cars and other metals and manufactured goods.
"Manufacturing employment has been increasing slowly since 2010, but it is not back to pre-recession levels," Pollak said.
Although healthcare is likely to continue to expand, Pollak said there is still uncertainty about the effects of the Affordable Care Act, which may limit growth at first until some of the uncertainty is resolved.
"Residential construction is also likely to increase significantly in the next year as the stock of available homes in many areas is the lowest it has been since before the recession," he said.
At the same time, the winding down of the BP Whiting Refinery project may offset this growth, he said.
Overall, Pollak said the Northwest Indiana Coincident Index forecasts between a 0.5- and 1-percent growth in employment in the region - or a gain of about 1,000 to 2,000 jobs.
"While a gain of 1,000 to 2,000 jobs may not be particularly impressive, it is still significantly better than this last year in which we actually lost about 2,000 jobs," Pollak said.
Where Northwest Indiana stacks up against the rest of the country, however, isn't as positive.
"The recovery from the housing and financial crisis has generally been much slower in Northwest Indiana than for the nation as a whole," Pollak said.
That's because employment in Northwest Indiana is 23.6 times more heavily concentrated in manufacturing than the rest of the nation.
"While many of the areas of the national economy — particularly the financial sector - have returned to and even exceeded pre-recession levels, manufacturing continues to lag behind," Pollak said. "The continued weak European economy and because of our dependence on this sector, our local economy is recovering slower."
Increases in productivity have meant that the same amount of output can be produced with fewer employees as well, Pollak said.
While employment in manufacturing is slowly returning, it will likely take a significant amount of time for manufacturing employment to return to pre-recession levels, he said.
"In short, what we are generally seeing in Northwest Indiana is the continuation of a shift away from traditionally high-paying manufacturing jobs into other industries such as retail trade and healthcare," Pollak said.