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In this issue..
A new employer tax hotline is now available exclusively for Indiana employers who need assistance or information from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The phone number will help answer questions on a variety of tax topics including; general tax questions, employer account status, statement of benefits, employer refunds, new hire questions, employer collections and general benefits. The phone number is 1-800-437-9136. The hotline is operational Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
When employers call the line, there are three options to choose from, collections and enforcement, employer account maintenance and rate assurance and status. After the employer picks an option, the call connects to a tax representative specializing in the area selected. Callers must select an option to speak with a representative or they hear a prerecorded disconnect message.
The average response time to each call is under one minute and depending on the volume, 80-90 percent of all calls are answered without the employer holding at all. Currently, the hotline is averaging almost 2,000 calls per week.
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) recently awarded $125,500 in grant money to thirty-three Indiana secondary and postsecondary schools for the For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics program. FIRST Robotics inspires young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills.
The FIRST Robotics international competition gives high school students, teacher and mentors six weeks to collaborate and build a robot. The robot is designed to perform tasks involved with a game, which changes each year. Teams compete regionally to qualify for the international event.
“Indiana teams are in the top five percent as far as teams that qualify for the internationals and typically eight to ten teams from Indiana qualify every year,” said Keith Chandler, Career and Technical Education Program Director. “Indiana does well and is considered by many as a ‘powerhouse’ at the national competition. In fact, Team 71 from Hammond has won the world championship four times.”
The DWD grants are being funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career & Technical Education Act and are made available to provide support for Indiana FIRST Robotics teams. Funds may be used for creating and/or sustaining a FIRST robotics program. Eligible applicants must have registered with US FIRST Robotics for the 2010 competition and involve career and technical education students on their teams.
Below is a list of schools that were awarded grants for the FIRST Robotics program.
|Ball State University||$4000|
|Brownsburg Community School Corp.||$6000|
|Columbus School Corp.||$4000|
|Carmel Clay Schools||$2500|
|Elkhart Community Schools||$4000|
|School City of Hammond||$2500|
|Indianapolis Public Schools||$7500|
|Jay School Corp.||$6000|
|Kokomo High School||$2500|
|Lafayette Jefferson High School||$2500|
|MSD Lawrence Township||$2500|
|Shelby Eastern School||$2500|
|MSD Warren Township||$2500|
|Munster High School||$6000|
|New Prairie High School||$5000|
|Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson School Corp.||$6000|
|North White School Corp.||$2500|
|Penn High School||$2500|
|Perry Meridian High School||$2500|
|Rochester Community School Corp.||$4000|
|South Bend Community Schools||$6000|
|Southport High School||$2500|
|Vigo County School Corp.||$7500|
|Taylor Community School Corp.||$4000|
|West Lafayette School Corp.||$2500|
|Western High School||$2500|
|Union Township School Corp.||$2500|
|MSD Pike Township||$2500|
Wednesday, February 3rd marked the halfway point of the 2010 session of the Indiana General Assembly. This deadline was the final day bills could pass the chamber in which they originated. For the next month, the House and Senate will consider bills passed by the other chamber. In terms of unemployment and workforce development there are four bills which we are closely monitoring.
Senate Bill 23, authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Wheatfield), would delay by one year $280 million in higher taxes imposed on most Indiana businesses due to last year’s unemployment insurance bill (HEA 1379). It would also correct language passed in last year’s legislation that was found to be non-conforming with federal requirements. Senate Bill 23 passed the Senate by a vote of 33-16. It now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 213, authored by Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel), deals with illegal immigration issues. One aspect of the bill would require the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to verify the immigration status of all unemployment insurance recipients through the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program. The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency noted in its review of this proposed legislation that DWD already uses SAVE as required by federal law, so this legislation would not affect DWD or unemployment insurance applicants. Senate Bill 213 passed the Senate 46 to 4. It now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
House Bill 1117, authored by Rep. Charles Moseley (D-Portage), would change the manner in which adult education programs are funded by the state. This measure would allocate adult education funds through the state school funding formula rather than making it a separate grant program. House Bill 1117 passed the House 53 to 45. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 1120, authored by Rep. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend), deals with the misclassification of workers as independent contractors and requires the creation of a new computer system to share misclassification information between multiple state agencies. The Indiana Department of Labor had concerns with this bill related to the costs of this new computer system. It was also noted that DWD is among the best in the nation in the identification of misclassified workers and was asked by the US Department of Labor to train other states on its system. House Bill 1120 passed the House 52 to 44. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development will continue to monitor these bills as they work their way through the legislative process. We will continue to update you as this legislative session continues. The Indiana General Assembly is required to adjourn for the year by March 14, 2010.
Much has been written concerning the decline of the manufacturing sector in America and specifically the Midwest in recent years. However, despite the overall industry trend, one should not discount strong manufacturing growth in certain smaller sectors. In other words, not all manufacturing is equal.
Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing
As the population ages and the demand for newer medical devices increases, this industry is positioned for growth. Since 1990, this sector has nearly doubled its employment from 10,800 to today’s total of 20,800. During the last two recessions, it continued to grow and in December reached its peak of 20,800. During 2007 to 2009, this sector experienced its three highest years of employment, standing at 19,200 in 2007, 20,200 in 2008 and 20,800 in 2009 - showing growth each year during a very sluggish economy. Essentially, this industry showed strong gains when other areas of manufacturing were experiencing significant loss.
During a recession, consumers are still in need of essential items such as food products. This industry grew by 900 jobs (2.4%) since last year. Since 2002, Food Manufacturing gained 9.9% in employment with a gain of 2,900 jobs and hit record-level employment of 35,400 jobs in August 2009.
Motor Vehicle Manufacturing
While Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing has taken big hits during a rough economy, Motor Vehicle Manufacturing or vehicle assembly has doubled its Indiana employment since 1990. In 1990 the employment for this industry was as low as 3,700 and by December 2009 it stood at 13,100. Much of this growth can be attributed to the addition of Toyota and Honda assembly plants to the industry mix.
This industry has experienced job losses in the short term since 2005 due to recessionary pressures. However, over the long run, Motor Vehicle Manufacturing has shown gains of 2,800 since 2000 (27.1%) The monthly employment peaks came as recently as June 2008 and again in August 2008 of 13,900 jobs. Employment in December 2009 is at 13,100, with less than a 1% loss from 2007-2009. This compares favorably to the 18.7% job losses of all manufacturing jobs from 2007-2009.
Engine, Turbine, and Power Transmission Equipment Manufacturing
Engine, Turbine, and Power Transmission Equipment Manufacturing has remained stable over the past decade. The industry employment peak of 13,000 was in December 2008 and has only lost 100 jobs from 2002-2009. While this industry has managed to tread water during a rough economy, the potential of windmill power and recent federal grants with Indiana firms, including funding for research, makes this industry an area to watch.
Often times when I travel the state visiting our WorkOne Centers and meeting with educators and local economic development officials, Hoosiers will approach me with questions about the workforce development system. I also receive hundreds of questions through the Ask the Commissioner feature on our DWD website.
This month I would like to answer some of the more common questions I receive.
Can WorkOne help pay for classes so I can get a better job?
In many cases – YES!!! Your WorkOne Career Counselor has access to a number of training grants and programs to help individual Hoosiers improve their skills. These programs include Governor Daniels’ Workforce Acceleration Grant which uses federal stimulus dollars to provide up to $6,000 for eligible Hoosiers to attend a qualified training program or receive an Associates Degree.
Why does it take 21 days to make the first unemployment insurance payment?
DWD has a responsibility to ensure that only eligible Hoosiers collect unemployment. During those first 21 days, the department verifies the eligibility of each claimant, determines how much an eligible person should receive, and what former employers should be charged for that claim. I am very proud that Indiana is one of only 15 states to meet or exceed the federal standard of making 87% of first time payments within 21 days.
Can WorkOne help my business?
YES!!! WorkOne has business consultants on staff in every region of the state. These individuals specialize in working with local employers to find qualified employees to fill open positions. They can also conduct a job profile of an available position and then match qualified individuals to those positions.
What should someone who is newly unemployed do to quickly find a new job?
I would suggest visiting your WorkOne Center as quickly as possible. Not only can you file for unemployment insurance benefits at the WorkOne, you can also talk with one of our career counselors. WorkOne offers a host of free services to Hoosiers including free training options, resume writing workshops, seminars to improve your job interview skills and job search assistance. You can also find the largest number of available jobs in Indiana by visiting www.indianacareerconnect.com
Does WorkOne offer any help to unemployed veterans?
WorkOne is proud to offer America’s Heroes a first in line guarantee. Each full-service WorkOne Center has a trained specialist to help our veterans. Usually, our Veterans Representatives are vets themselves, so they understand the challenges facing our returning servicemen and women. All veterans who enter our WorkOne Centers should go directly to the head of the line and take advantage of the numerous services we offer designed especially for you.
This is just a sample of some of the more common questions I receive. From time-to-time I’ll dig into my mailbag in the future and answer other questions. In the meantime, feel free to send questions to me at AskDWDCommissioner@dwd.in.gov.