Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 21, 2013

State touts latest jobs numbers

Local economy still struggling post-recession

From staff reports
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Indiana gained 25,300 private sector jobs in November, the largest one-month increase on record, Indiana Department of Workforce Development officials said Friday.

State officials said all employment sectors saw significant growth, with the exception of the leisure and hospitality sector, which was unchanged for the month. Employment sectors experiencing the largest increases in hiring over the month were trade, transportation and utilities (+6,800), construction (+5,400), manufacturing (+4,800), and professional and business services (+4,700).

Indiana was responsible for nearly 13 percent of the nation’s private sector job growth in November.

Indiana’s unemployment rate declined in November as well, dropping 0.2 percentage point to 7.3 percent, lower than all neighboring states. Fewer Hoosiers are now unemployed (232,400), than in November of 2008 (240,600).

The unemployment numbers are expected to fall further this month as 70,000 Hoosiers are due to lose extended unemployment benefits, unless Congress passes another extension.

Howard (7.9 percent), Miami (8.7 percent) and Tipton (7.5 percent) all remained above the state unemployment rate.

Signs of growth around the state are welcome news; there are still about 13,000 fewer Hoosier workers than there were at the pre-recession peak, and the national labor participation rate is near a 30-year low,. Economists say the lower labor force figures are being driven by people who have run out of unemployment benefits and have stopped looking for work.

The local economies, hard hit by two natural disasters this year, aren’t close to recovering to pre-recession levels of prosperity.

In the Kokomo metropolitan statistical area, which includes Tipton and Howard counties, the average weekly earnings for all private sector jobs is almost exactly half of what it was in September 2007.

“Today’s job numbers are welcome news to every Hoosier and are a testament to the hard-working people of our state and the businesses that power Indiana’s economy every day,” Gov. Mike Pence said. “The continued downward trend in unemployment and the significant growth in private sector jobs demonstrate that Indiana’s economy is strong and growing stronger every day.”