Indiana’s unemployment rate continued to dwindle in March, hitting a record low and marking the sixth consecutive month the rate has been below 3%.
The state’s unemployment rate dropped from 2.3% in February to 2.2% in March, according to numbers released Friday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. That’s a record dating back at least 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 unemployment rate slipped from 3.8% in February to 3.6% in March.
The state’s labor force participation improved from 62.1% in February to 62.4% in March, which matched the 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 62.4% 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 71,904 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.
Total private employment now stands at 2,753,900, an improvement of 7,300 jobs over February and a peak for the state.
The increase was due in part to monthly job gains in the Construction (1,400), Financial Activities (1,300), Manufacturing (2,100) and Private Education and Health Services sectors (2,200).
There are 154,713 open job postings in Indiana, while 22,013 people are receiving unemployment benefits, the state said.
“The latest employment data continues to show a positive trend with Indiana’s labor force,” DWD Commissioner Fred Payne said in a media release. “We are encouraged by the increase in private employment and the labor participation rate. This is a great time for those out of the labor force to take advantage of the open job opportunities that could lead to economic mobility.”