COLUMBUS is going through a process that is very familiar to those who have lived in the community for an extended period of time.
The process was reflected in two stories that appeared on successive days last week.
One reported that employment was at an all-time high in the city.
The second reported that housing — particularly rental units — was extremely tight.
If trends are any accurate measure, it would appear that both situations will continue on their present course.
The hiring story is especially good news at a time when the rest of the country is still struggling to recover from the worst economic recession in almost half a century.
Although Columbus and Bartholomew County have been spared the devastating hits that other areas of the country experienced, the local unemployment rate was still 6.9 percent in January.
Nevertheless, the labor force presently stands at an all-time high of 41,264. That takes into account a significant number of residents still looking for work.
The growth in the labor force is an indicator that people are coming to the city to find work.
The good news is that many of them are getting jobs across a wide spectrum of skills.
The major driving force has been Cummins Inc., which has added 1,500 professional jobs, but area manufacturers such as NTN Driveshaft, Enkei America Inc., LHP Software and Faurecia also have added significantly to their payrolls.
This strengthened workforce is faced with the same kind of housing situation families experienced here during World War II with the growth of Camp Atterbury and Atterbury Air Base and the boom years of the 1960s when major employers such as Cummins, Arvin Industries and Hamilton Cosco were conducting recruitment drives.
During those periods, it was common for some families to move in with others until adequate housing could be arranged.
There are projects under way to meet this latest demand, most notably in rental apartments such as the Cole, which is now under construction, and another downtown apartment complex planned on Washington Street.
But housing is just one of the needs that will have to be addressed. The community will have to address other quality of life issues such as education, recreation and the arts to entice those who come here to stay.
The good news is that it’s been done in the past and can be done in the future.
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