Indiana’s private sector employment continues to grow, but it isn’t all good news.
In March, the Hoosier state added 5,300 jobs in the private business sector. The state’s unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percent to 8.2 percent, matching the national rate, which declined 0.1 percent from February. March was the fourth consecutive month the state’s rate declined. The unemployment rate in Indiana has not been below 8.2 percent since December 2008.
“It is good news that Indiana’s unemployment rate is on the way down,” said Mark W. Everson, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development. “Indiana has seen steady job growth since the beginning of the year, with manufacturing leading the way, adding almost 8,000 jobs.” Everson also noted the improvement in the state’s unemployment rate over the past year has come at the same time the labor force has been increasing. This is a sharp contrast from some of our neighboring states, who have seen their unemployment rates drop in large part due to individuals leaving the workforce.
But Ball State economist Michael Hicks says the state is still not creating enough opportunities to make a major dent in the unemployment rate.
“March job gains paint a clearer picture of slowing jobs gains from the first part of the year,” Hicks says. “While the unemployment rate has dipped, this rate of job growth will not get us to full employment in the foreseeable future.”
A drop in Indiana’s unemployment rate means also that under federal law the state is no longer eligible for the fourth tier of federally funded extended benefits. Tier four is the final six weeks of the current 79 weeks of unemployment insurance available. According to federal law, the state’s three-month average unemployment rate must be above 8.5 percent to qualify. Hoosiers will be unable to file a new claim for tier four beginning Sunday, May 20, 2012. Individuals currently receiving tier 4 benefits will be able to finish any remaining weeks on their claim. Approximately 5,000 Hoosiers are currently receiving the fourth tier of federally extended benefits.
Additional information is available on DWD’s website.
Sources: Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Ball State University