“As positive as these announcements are, we also know that they are just the beginning,” said city of Kokomo Development Director Steve Whikehart. “We will continue to promote economic development and improve quality of life in our community by building partnerships, by investing wisely and by demanding more of ourselves in everything we do.”
According to retired Indiana University economist Morton Marcus, Kokomo hit an employment peak in 2005, just prior to Delphi Automotive Systems filing for bankruptcy. Marcus said Kokomo’s workforce is now about 10 percent smaller than it was back then.
But even prior to the Delphi bankruptcy, Kokomo had been shedding jobs, along with the rest of the auto parts-producing cities of the Rust Belt. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kokomo lost about one quarter of all of its jobs in the decade between 2000 and 2010.
That trend now appears to be reversing.
According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Indiana has added over 60,000 manufacturing jobs since the 2009 low point, making it the state with the second largest growth in the manufacturing sector in that time period.
According to BEA analysts, durable goods manufacturing “fueled growth in many small metropolitan areas where it constitutes a large portion of the area’s economy,” and said the impact of manufacturing is “especially true in the Great Lakes region where durable-goods manufacturing contributed 8.5 percentage points to growth in Elkhart-Goshen, 8.3 percentage points to growth in Columbus, and 7.2 percentage points in Kokomo.”