Indiana unemployment rate drops below 4% for first time since pandemic

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Indiana’s unemployment rate ticked lower in March, decreasing from 4% in February to 3.9% last month, according to numbers released Friday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The state’s unemployment rate has been doggedly retracing its steps over the last year from its latest spike, falling from 16.9% in April to 12.3% in May, 11.2% in June, 7.8% in July, 6.4% in August, 6.3% in September, 5.5% in October, 5.1% in November, 4.3% in December, 4.2% in January and 4% in February.

It was 3.3% in March 2020, just before the pandemic triggered wide-scale layoffs and job losses.

Indiana’s recovery from double-digit unemployment continued to outshine the improvement in the national rate. U.S. unemployment slipped from 6.2% in February to 6% in March.

An estimated 130,285 Hoosiers are currently unemployed and seeking jobs, the state reported. That’s down from 141,188 in January and 133,977 in February.

Indiana’s labor force—which is composed of both employed and unemployed-but-willing-to-work residents—decreased net 5,895 over February’s tally to about 3.34 million. This was the result of a decrease of 3,644 unemployed residents and a decrease of 2,251 employed residents.

Indiana’s labor-force participation rate slipped from 63.2% in February to 63.1% in March. It again bettered the national rate of 61.5%, which rose from 61.4% in February.

The labor force participation rate indicates the percentage of all people of working age who are employed or are actively seeking work.

Private sector employment in Indiana in March decreased by 100 from the previous month and is down by 84,600 over the year. Total private employment stands at 2,626,200, which is 114,300 below the December 2019 peak.

The monthly decrease was due in part to job losses in the Professional and Business Services sector (-3,700) and the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector (-3,000). Losses were offset somewhat by gains in the Construction (3,000) and Leisure and Hospitality (3,100) sectors.

Friday’s report broke out unemployment rates for six nearby states, five of which had higher unemployment rates than Indiana: Minnesota (4.2%), Ohio (4.7%), Kentucky (5%), Michigan (5.1%) and Illinois (7.1%). Wisconsin’s rate was lower, at 3.8%.

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