Indiana’s unemployment rate held steady in May at an all-time low of 2.2% while the national rate remained at 3.6%, according to numbers released Friday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
This is the third month that the state’s unemployment rate has rested at 2.2%. It dropped from 2.3% in February to 2.2% in March. That was a record dating back at least to 1976, when the current method of compiling unemployment rates began.
May’s rate of 2.2% was a far cry from the mid-teen highs seen in the first months of the pandemic in 2020.
Meanwhile, the national rate, which slipped from 3.8% in February to 3.6% in March and April, stayed at 3.6% in May.
The state’s labor force participation improved from 62.6% in April to 62.9% in May, which was slightly higher than the 62.3% national rate. The labor force participation rate indicates the percentage of all people of working age who are employed or are actively seeking work.
In effect, a labor force participation rate of 62.9% means that more than a third of Hoosiers of working age (16 and over) are not employed and are not seeking work.
The rate plunged to 60.8% at the beginning of the pandemic and then bounced back a bit. It began the 21st century hovering near 68% but began a bumpy descent in late 2003 to about 64% just prior to the pandemic.
The unemployment rate is a different measure, only representing those in the labor force who are actively looking for work but cannot find a job.
An estimated 73,911 Hoosiers are currently unemployed and seeking jobs, the state reported. That’s down from 88,240 in December and 100,696 in November.
Indiana’s labor force—composed of both employed and unemployed-but-seeking-work residents age 16 and over—was 3,364,365, an increase of 16,374 from April.
Total private employment now stands at 2,759,300, a gain of about 7,600 jobs from April.
The state noted that sectors adding employees in May included Manufacturing (2,400), Professional and Business Services (2,000) and Leisure and Hospitality (1,000).
There are 159,763 open job postings in Indiana, while 16,902 people received unemployment benefits in May, the state said.
“While the number of people working in the private sector is at a new high, there remains numerous available job opportunities throughout Indiana,” DWD Commissioner Fred Payne said in a media release. “More and more Hoosiers have spent the last several months reassessing their career and career goals, and the May employment report shows individuals continue to return to the workplace.”