Indiana’s unemployment rate jumped to 3.5 percent in August, up from 3.1 percent the previous month. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development says the state lost 4,900 private sector jobs last month, although private sector employment has grown by more than 25,400 over the past year. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show the Indiana labor force increased by more than 4,600 in August. Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research Director Mike Hicks says he doesn’t necessarily see the report as a reason for concern, since the manufacturing sector is coming off of a "blistering period."
The DWD says Indiana remains below the national rate of 4.4 percent. The August numbers mark four full years where the state has been at or below the national unemployment rate.
Indiana’s labor force stands at nearly 3.34 million. The state’s labor force participation rate stands at 64.4 percent, which remains higher than the national rate of 62.9 percent, according to the DWD.
The highest growth sectors for Indiana in August were trade, transportation and utilities, as well as financial activities. Gains in those sectors offset losses in the leisure and hospitality and private, educational and health services. The DWD says Indiana’s total private employment stands at 6,700 above the November 2016 peak.
Hicks says many of the sectors that lost employment are susceptible to seasonal adjustments due to factors like workers leaving temporary jobs to return to school or events like the Indiana State Fair closing.
Indiana has the second-lowest unemployment rate of states in the Midwest, behind only Wisconsin at 3.4 percent.
Hicks says the report shows a potential “return to long-term reality” for the manufacturing sector.