State unemployment rate drops to 8.8 percent

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Indiana’s unemployment rate in February dropped below 9 percent for the first time in more than two years, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development said Friday morning.

The state’s jobless rate dipped to 8.8 percent, a decline of 0.3 percentage points compared with the previous month. Indiana’s unemployment rate has not been below 9 percent since December 2008.

Still, the state lost 1,600 private-sector jobs in February after adding 10,600 in January. Overall, Indiana lost 7,900 total jobs last month.

“The number of Hoosiers claiming state unemployment insurance benefits is less than half the number it was two years ago,” DWD Commissioner Mark W. Everson said in a prepared statement. “Moreover, new claims for unemployment insurance are now at a level not seen since 2006.”

Job sectors showing showing growth included private education and health services, and construction.

Sectors with declines included government, trade, transportation and utilities.

Indiana shed 6,300 government jobs in February, the report said.

The national unemployment rate sank from 9 percent in January to 8.9 percent in February.

Indiana’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the Midwest, a tick ahead of Illinois’ rate of 8.9 percent.

Trailing is Ohio at 9.2 percent, and Kentucky and Michigan, both at 10.4 percent. All Midwestern states reported a decline in unemployment except Kentucky, where the rate was unchanged from January.

The number of unemployed Hoosiers dropped to 288,340 in February, from a revised 294,615 in January.

In the Indianapolis metropolitan area, the non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 8.6 percent in February, nearly unchanged from 8.7 percent in January but down from 10.1 percent in February 2010.

Comparisons of metro areas are most accurately made using the same months in prior years, because the government does not adjust the figures for factory furloughs and other seasonal fluctuations.

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