Indiana’s unemployment rate continues descent, slipping to 2.4%

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Indiana’s unemployment rate continued to descend in January and hit a low that the state has not seen at least since America’s bicentennial.

The state’s unemployment rate dropped from 2.7% in December to 2.4% in January, according to numbers released Monday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. That’s a record dating back to 1976, when the current method of compiling unemployment rates began.

That’s also a far cry from the mid-teen highs seen in the first months of the pandemic in 2020. Meanwhile, the national rate eked up from 3.9% in December to 4% in January.

However, the state’s labor force participation remains at 61.9%—a record low for at least the last 46 years if one doesn’t count its sudden fall to 60.8% and quick recovery in the first three months of the pandemic.

Indiana’s labor force participation rate hovered near 68% from 2001 to 2003 and then began a bumpy descent to the current level of 61.9%.

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 61.9% means that more than a third of Hoosiers of working age (16 and over) are not employed and are not seeking work.

The national labor force participation rate in January was 62.2%.

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 79,875 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 3.3 million. This was a result of an increase of 10,344 employed residents and a decrease of 8,816 unemployed residents.

Total private employment now stands at 2,731,800, an improvement over 2,689,100 in November. Total private employment is now 9,900 below the February 2019 peak of 2,741,700.

The increase was due in part to monthly job gains in the Construction (1,100) and Financial Activities (200) sectors.

There are 149,955 open job postings in Indiana, while 23,404 people are receiving unemployment benefits, the state said.

Monday’s report broke out unemployment rates for six nearby states, all of which had higher unemployment rates than Indiana: Illinois (5%), Kentucky (4.4%), Michigan (4.9%), Ohio (4.3%), Wisconsin (3%) and Minnesota (2.9%).

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