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Strike hurts state job numbers in April

May 19, 2008

The strike at Detroit-based American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc. was a drag on Indiana employment in April, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Overall employment of 2.98 million was down 3,100 from March but up slightly from a year earlier, the agency reported late last week.

The agency estimates that the 12-week-old strike wiped 6,000 positions from the numbers.

Striking American Axle workers forced General Motors Corp. to halt production at plants in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Marion and at Bedford. An AM General plant in Mishawaka that makes the Hummer H2 also was crippled.

The strike might be over soon. American Axle and the United Auto Workers union over the weekend arrived at a tentative agreement that cuts wages by about one-third but preserves many jobs.

More than the strike hurt manufacturing numbers in April, though.

A soft economy particularly hurt northern Indiana makers of recreational vehicles and truck parts, agency spokesman John Ruckelshaus said.

Employment in the Indianapolis area rose 1 percent from March and 0.9 percent from a year earlier. The metro area had 921,300 people on the job in April.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent from 5.1 percent in March, as construction workers returned to jobs on roads and commercial projects. Their work had been delayed by a wet spring.

The April figures are preliminary and subject to revision.

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