Corny jokes featuring doctors often begin by the doc saying to the patient: “I have bad news and good news. Which do you want first?” As an Indiana bankruptcy lawyer, I don’t do a lot of joke-telling, but I do feel it’s important for me to keep my blog readers and clients up to date on Indiana job markets. That’s because my Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers will need to get a handle on their finances, keep the bills paid on time, and take advantage of the fresh start the bankruptcy safety net provided them. My Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers will need steady work to keep up with their three-to-five year debt repayment plan that is supervised by the bankruptcy court.

I’ll choose – the good news first. Two weeks ago I focused on the success of Cook Group in Bloomington Indiana, and the fact that Cook is in the process of creating new jobs. Now, I’m happy to report, IDC-USA, an Indianapolis-based cooperative for power transmission producers is expanding its facility near the airport, and hiring new workers as it plans for continued growth next year. Dow Agrosciences (I had been concerned by news that the parent company planned layoffs) will be adding new jobs in 2009, and its spokesman told an Indianapolis Star reporter that none of Dow’s Indiana operations will be affected by idling at plants elsewhere.

Good news was forthcoming from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation as well. Perkins Specialized Transportation in Noblesville is investing $15 million to improve its headquarters, and will add twenty or so new jobs. Meanwhile, Carmel software developer Interactions corp. announced it plans to add 100 jobs as it launches its new conference call technology product “Hey Otto 1.0”.

I know, I know – I’m making it sound as if all the news that’s fit to print is good, and that’s simply not true, far from it. With bankruptcy law offices serving 38 counties around the state of Indiana, I’ve heard reports about Knauf Insulation cutting 11% of its work force in Shelbyville, Kite Realty Group Trust dropping 10% of its staff in Indianapolis, and Deflect-o (manufacturer of dryer vent tubes and heat register deflectors) closing its Fishers and Indianapolis operations totally, eliminating more than 200 jobs. In Kendallville and Ligonier, Dalton is closing a foundry, and auto parts manufacturer Vibracoustic is closing a plant. A combined 400 jobs will be lost.

I also know that the Indianapolis Public School Board voted to close six schools, which will mean the loss of 240 administrator and teacher jobs. Meanwhile, in order to avoid or at least put off downsizing its staff, Atlas World Group in Evansville will cut employee pay by 5% starting in January, while in Lafayette, Indiana, Wabash National is suspending dividends to shareholders to shave costs.

No joke here – these are serious times. The one recommendation I offer to all my clients and readers is to seek experienced legal advice as soon as financial challenges (such as a job loss) occur. It’s obvious that, in these times, if your financial situation is deteriorating, you’re not alone. In an earlier blog, Before Bankruptcy, The Brain Isn’t Interested In Reality, I brought out the fact that under stress, it’s extremely difficult to make wise decisions. That’s why I so strongly recommend that the moment you begin to make only minimum payments on credit cards, or find yourself choosing which bills to pay and which to roll over to the next month, you need to begin getting organized and keeping exact records that you might need in the event you later choose to file bankruptcy.