State’s unemployment rate drops to 8.5 percent

Indiana’s unemployment rate continued its downward slide, dropping to 8.5 percent in March, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development said Tuesday morning.

The state’s jobless rate declined by 0.3 percentage points compared with the previous month and is the lowest it’s been in more than two years. It was at 8.2 percent in December 2008.

In the past four months, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped a full percentage point, from 9.5 percent in December.

The number of unemployed Hoosiers dropped to 272,578 in March, from a revised 288,316 in February.

“We haven’t seen the unemployment rate drop by 1 [percentage point] in a quarter since 1993,” DWD Commissioner Mark W. Everson said in a prepared statement. “We also saw solid job growth in March, particularly in the manufacturing sector.”

The manufacturing industry added 5,200 jobs last month. Other job sectors showing growth included leisure and hospitality, private education and health services, and financial activities.

Professional and business services showed the most significant decline.

Overall, Indiana added 10,000 jobs in March, the report said.

The national unemployment rate dipped from 8.9 percent in February to 8.8 percent in March.

In the Indianapolis metropolitan area, the non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 8.1 percent in March, lower than the 8.6 percent rate in February and down significantly from 10.1 percent in March 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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