Indiana's unemployment rate plummeted 0.4 percent in December, to 6.9 percent, its lowest point since October 2008, the Department of Workforce Development announced Tuesday morning.
The improvement came despite a small decline in private-sector employment of 4,800 jobs during the month.
State officials called the decline expected after "a historic month of job growth in November" of 25,100 jobs.
Only one employment sector, professional and business services, showed job gains in December, and that was only by 200 jobs. Manufacturing lost 1,700 jobs, construction lost 13,00 jobs and total non-farm employment decreased by 6,800.
For all of 2013, Indiana saw a total increase of 42,600 jobs. The unemployment rate has fallen from 8.3 percent in December 2012.
The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hasn't been so low since it was 6.8 percent in October 2008. The rate jumped to 7.4 percent the next month.
“There are fewer Hoosiers unemployed (218,100) now than in the past five years,” DWD Commissioner Scott Sanders said in a prepared statement. “Just as important is the fact more than 21,000 folks have returned to the labor force over the past three months, which is unique in the Midwest."
Indiana's jobless rate ranks 31st in the nation and is slightly higher than the national average of 6.7 percent, but is lower than Ohio's (7.2 percent), Kentucky's (8.0), Michigan's (8.4) and Illinois' (8.6).
The non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Indianapolis-Carmel area fell to 5.8 percent in December, down from 7.9 in December 2012.