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The more things change these days, well, the more they change. And when it comes to our local economy, we see a lot of changes.

Comparing fall 2019 payroll employment to 2021, the Bloomington metro area (which includes Monroe and Owen counties) lost a net total of 174 payroll-based jobs. The funny thing about doing the math this way – calculating the job losses from 2019 to 2021 – is that it jumps right to the big job losses of 2020, which did a lot of damage to the both to the people and the economy of the region. Between fall 2019 and fall 2020, we lost 2,863 jobs, equivalent to the population of about 49 small towns in Indiana, like Brownstown or Delphi or Fairmount.

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Amid the pandemic and resulting layoffs and employer closures, the metro area saw mostly widespread job losses in the spring and summer of 2020. But remarkably, in the fall of 2021 (there just a few months ago), we had come back from the 2020 job losses to show a net loss of just 174 jobs compared to 2019.

So many of our employers have bounced back to recoup those losses, bringing people back to work and clamoring for even more labor. At the same time, our employment levels are back, we are seeing remarkable changes in our job market and increasing competition in the Bloomington metro for workers.

And while employment levels have returned to pre-pandemic levels, average wages have gone well beyond that. A bigger and more lasting change has come to our labor market with, for some industries, big wage increases. The average weekly pay in the Bloomington Metro for all industries increased by an average of $130 between the third quarters of 2019 and 2021 to reach $990 per week. Indeed, between 2019 and 2020, weekly wages increased by an average of $69 and between 2020 and 2021, by $61.

Keep in mind that this is the average for all industries, including government and schools. If we look at the manufacturing sector, it has been on a tear – adding over 1,500 jobs between 2019 and 2021 (reminder: we are comparing the third quarter of each of these years). And this escalation in the number of new salaried jobs in the manufacturing sector has been accompanied by a significant increase in weekly wages – a total of $237 per week.

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Average weekly earnings rose to $1,211 from $974 in 2019, and very close to the state average of $1,266. The Bloomington Metro isn’t just home to well-paying manufacturing jobs, it’s home to many more than two years ago, when we had less than 10,000 and now it’s home to more than 11,000.

That’s right: 1,878 new manufacturing jobs were created between 2020 and 2021, with a payroll in the third quarter of 2021 of almost $200 million and representing 20% ​​of the total quarterly payroll in the region of $886 million. dollars. If wages continue to rise, we could see a $1 billion quarterly payroll appear on the list of big changes as our economy grows.

What did someone say, change is inevitable, growth is optional?

Carol Rogers is Co-Director and Chief Information Officer of Indiana Business Research Center to Indiana University Kelley School of Business.