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

A new program starting later this month will give workers a pathway into highway construction careers. It’s a joint project between the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana Construction Roundtable. 

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Starting this week, unemployed Hoosiers will once again need to prove they are searching for work in order to receive jobless benefits. The requirements are normal, but were waived for more than a year as a form of pandemic relief.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana saw 32 highway work zone deaths in 2019, the most recent year with available data. That’s higher than any year in almost a decade. But researchers at Purdue University are trying to use data to stop accidents before they happen.

Coolcaeser/Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement this week with a central Indiana furniture store for failing to rehire a soldier upon return from duty. That’s a violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

Courtesy of the Office of Career Connections and Talent

The Indiana Career Connections and Talent secretary will step down from her role on June 7. It comes just months after her department was absorbed several months ago by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. 

Screenshot of Zoom call

Indiana just designated two areas – one on the border of Louisville and the other in north central Indiana – as "talent regions." It means local agencies are planning ways to turn existing residents into skilled workers while also attracting outside talent to fill local jobs.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana Senate Democrats are renewing their calls for increasing the state’s minimum wage as typically lower-wage businesses like restaurants say they can’t hire enough workers.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana’s unemployment rate is 3.9 percent for April, remaining unchanged from the month before. The data is preliminary, but may show a slight slowing in economic recovery from the ongoing pandemic.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

In a little less than a month, Indiana will stop payments of all federal unemployment benefits in hopes it will force workers to fill vacant jobs. 

Screenshot EmployIndy Facebook Live

More than two dozen high schoolers in central Indiana are committing to a new two- to three-year paid apprenticeship program called the Modern Apprenticeship Program (MAP). It’s part of a nationally growing trend to give kids real-world career training and get them into the workforce. 

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana will opt out of federal unemployment benefit programs, effective in mid-June as Gov. Eric Holcomb follows other states in an attempt to push people back into the workforce. 

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Fran Hunter owns a neighborhood bar and grill called Hunter’s Place on Main Street in Elkhart. She said she’s had a “Now Hiring” sign up for weeks. In that time, she’s only had one person apply.

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.

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