More people considering career changes

SOUTH BEND, In. - Unemployment numbers skyrocketed across the nation at the start of the pandemic last March. Now one year later - many industries are still navigating how they’re going to bounce back.

While every industry has been impacted by the pandemic - hospitality, manufacturing, restaurants, and event-focused businesses have faced the worst of it.

It’s left theatre major James Cullinane nervous about whether or not he’ll have a job come graduation day.

“I’m very worried about like when it’s going to go back to what it was. Like if I graduate will it be in an open market or will everything still be shut down," said Cullinane, Notre Dame Student. 

Pre- pandemic South Bend was at a record low for unemployment rates at 3.2% - spiking to nine at the height of the pandemic - numbers are now dropping back down.

“I think from a numbers standpoint it’s certainly trending in the right direction. We’ll hold our own with the rest of Indiana and other parts of the country in terms of where that unemployment is,” said Jeff Rea, President and CEO of South Bend Regional Chamber. 

Rea says while he doesn’t believe we’ll hit three percent for unemployment anytime soon - the pandemic has made more people reconsider their careers than ever before.

“So we’ve seen a number of people think about do I change careers so that it’s a little more steady and predictable and I’m not susceptible to that," said Rea. 

Career changes have led more people to depend on stimulus checks while they figure out their next move. Although much needed - it’s caused more employers to have a harder time bringing laid-off employees back to work.

“I’m not sure that we totally understand yet all the impacts of the current bill and what it’s gonna be, but employers will tell you that’s a very real issue that when people can make you know pretty much the same not working as they would working it factors their decision to come back," shared Rea. 

Things might be looking up, but uncertainty still looms - forcing many to jump into other careers for job security.

“I really really love theatre I’m very very passionate about it so I know I want to do that, but obviously I still need to make money. And, I think even in general I’d have to find some sort of other job to keep me going while I pursue that so I definitely will be looking for something," said Cullinane. 

While we won’t ever see our economy exactly how it was before it’s certain things are starting to moving forward.

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