Justin Hicks

Workforce Development Reporter

Justin Hicks has joined the reporting team for Indiana Public Broadcasting News (IPB News) through funding made available by (IPBS) Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations. Justin will be based out of WVPE in his new role as a Workforce Development Reporter for IPB News. 

Justin comes to Indiana by way of New York. He has a Master's Degree from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He previously earned a Bachelor of Music Degree from Appalachian State University where he played trumpet. He first learned about Elkhart, Indiana, because of the stamp on his brass instrument indicating where it was produced. 

Not long ago, Justin started a branch of Young Eisner Scholars to work with intellectually curious students in Appalachia. He traveled through rural counties to start a dialogue about math, computer programming, writing, science and philosophy. 

Justin was born and raised in Mt. Olive, North Carolina. He currently lives in South Bend with his dog, Charlotte. 

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana will require out-of-work Hoosiers to prove they’re actively searching for work starting June 1, or else lose their unemployment benefits. The rule came in an executive order rolling back some of the COVID-19 relief measures in place for over a year.

Courtesy of Google Maps

A former northwest Indiana union official was recently sentenced to more than four years in prison for extortion after an assault on non-union workers. It started when members of a local union found out work was being done without union workers in their area.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said he will require out-of-work Hoosiers to actively search for jobs to remain on unemployment benefits.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

In 2019, 146 workers died on the job in Indiana according to an annual report from the country’s largest federation of unions. The group continues to call for better funding of federal and state agencies to hire more safety inspectors.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Starting this summer, Indiana children less than 18 years old will no longer be required to get a work permit. It’s one of a handful of changes to state child labor laws coming into effect this year as a result of legislation passed in 2020.

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The Indiana Department of Revenue issued guidance Tuesday on how Hoosiers who got unemployment benefits last year should file taxes after weeks of the department asking people to wait due to potential legislative changes.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

People who were recently released from prison often have a hard time getting hired. But some northern Indiana companies are looking to hire those returning citizens to fill gaps in their workforce. 

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Labor unions and local officials across Indiana recognized an annual Workers Memorial Day on Wednesday. One event in South Bend unveiled a memorial to essential workers who died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Samantha Horton/IPB News

Journalists at the Indianapolis Star and the South Bend Tribune are criticizing corporate owner Gannett for race and gender pay gaps. They say the disparities were uncovered when 14 unionized papers analyzed combined wage data to publish a nationwide study

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana high school students taking career and technical courses like cosmetology and welding are wrapping up a statewide competition this week. Due to the pandemic, it looks a little different this year as students compete virtually.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

As the legislative session came to a close, lawmakers chose not to expand a program aimed at helping the state’s most impoverished families. Policy groups say a change is direly needed since Indiana’s benefits reach the fewest families of all Midwestern states. 

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana will tax unemployment benefits received in 2020 as income in legislation headed to the governor. It comes after lawmakers debated a bill that would have temporarily waived the taxes in order to match a one-time federal tax break.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order Tuesday giving pregnant employees in state agencies the right to reasonable workplace accommodations. But he also signed a bill into law that tells private employers they don’t have to grant accommodations when their employees ask.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana is among seven states selected to pilot a federal initiative to increase employment for those experiencing mental health conditions. The Department of Labor is calling it the “ASPIRE” initiative, short for Advancing State Policy Integration for Recovery and Employment.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

The unemployment rate in Indiana continues to creep lower according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It estimates 3.9 percent of the state’s available labor force was unemployed in March, down just 0.1 percentage points from February. 

Justin Hicks/IPB News

High school courses in areas including cosmetology and culinary arts will keep their state funding in a version of the budget approved by the Senate after language that would’ve cut their funding was removed from the current budget bill.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

The Senate appropriations committee revived a plan to gradually increase the number of low-income families eligible for financial assistance. It was the subject of a bipartisan vote to amend House Bill 1009 on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF. 

(Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Indiana’s average unemployment rate in 2020 – 7.1 percent – increased nearly 4 percentage points compared to the year before. Keep in mind: many economists say, due to problems with data collection, it could be even higher.

(College of DuPage Newsroom/Flickr)

Most Hoosiers value education beyond high school, according to an annual survey, but almost three-quarters believe financial strains from the COVID-19 pandemic pushed higher education further out of reach.

(Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Ivy Tech is launching what may be the country’s first commercial driver’s license program, comprised of academic and practical coursework, where students can use federal student loans to pay for it.

(Justin Hicks/IPB News)

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development says the online system for managing unemployment claims will be down temporarily.

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

In an annual report, the country’s largest federation of labor unions ranks Indiana as one of the worst states in the country when it comes to worker deaths on the job.

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Central Indiana labor leaders and elected officials say they’re working on a number of issues, including the state’s gender pay gap and support for the federal HEROES Act. They discussed the issues Thursday night as part of a Labor Day Town Hall.

Justin Hicks

Tuesday marked the one year anniversary of the shooting death of Eric Logan by a white South Bend police officer. Some of Logan’s family and close friends held a memorial service Tuesday night and marched to demand justice one year after his death.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Workers from Indiana’s Caesars casinos rallied for higher wages and better health plans on Thursday in Shelbyville. Employees from the Indiana Grand Racing & Casino and Caesars Southern Indiana Casino came together ahead of contract negotiations.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has confirmed that a worker at a Kokomo transmission plant tested positive for the coronavirus. The company says production will continue normally. 

Employees at the transmission plant were notified Thursday that one of their coworkers has a confirmed case of COVID-19. The employee has been hospitalized and nearby workers are being quarantined for 14 days. Still, some are wondering if it’s safe to come to work.

Justin Hicks/WVPE

NEW: A special prosecutor has announced that the white South Bend officer who shot and killed a black man in South Bend last summer will not be charged for the shooting. Special prosecutor Richard Hertel has announced that officer Ryan O’Neill will not be charged for shooting Eric Logan because the state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force was not justified. However, in a separate case, Hertel has announced that O’Neill is being charged with several charges related to allegations that he picked up a prostitute in May.  He was arrested and booked at the St. Joseph Co.

Courtesy of Bosma Enterprises

While unemployment rates stay low in Indiana, almost two-thirds of Hoosiers who are blind or visually impaired are jobless. One nonprofit in Indianapolis is trying to change that by giving training and jobs to people with visual impairments. 

More than half of Bosma Enterprises employees are blind or visually impaired. They work in jobs ranging from warehousing to producing surgical gloves and ice melt. The nonprofit also partners with Indiana companies interested in hiring visually impaired workers. 

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Vice President Mike Pence made no mention of the ongoing impeachment inquiry during a speech in Indianapolis Wednesday night. Instead, he highlighted several Trump administration workforce policies.

During his speech, Pence touted the administration’s Pledge to America’s Workers, an initiative where companies and states commit to career training. He also applauded Gov. Eric Holcomb’s increase in career and technical education funding.

Justin Hicks/WVPE

The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet is getting public input on the state’s workforce programs to shape a federal funding proposal. The cabinet held its ninth listening session across the state in South Bend.

In order to receive millions of dollars in federal workforce funding, the cabinet is required to ask for public input. So far, the cabinet has received most of its questions about how Perkins funding will be used for education programs and concerns about barriers to services like transportation and lack of childcare.

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