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Analysts Say It’s Not All Good News In Unemployment Report

Joe Hren

State leaders celebrated last week over news that Indiana’s unemployment rate is at its lowest level in seven years, while the total number of jobs surged to a near-record high. But some analysts say it’s not time to pop the champagne yet.

Indiana’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent in April, reaching its lowest level since May of 2008.

But Indiana Institute for Working Families senior policy director Derek Thomas says he’s concerned that over the last three months, while the private sector added about 16,000 jobs, 18,000 people left the state’s labor force.

He says a decrease in the labor force means Hoosiers are either retiring, going back to school…or giving up on the job search altogether.

“As a percent of the labor force, we find that that was the second largest exodus in the U.S. from the labor market, just behind Wisconsin,” Thomas says.

Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee Chairman Brandt Hershman says while there’s always room for improvement, the labor force decline doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm.

“More people are working and that more aggressive labor market typically means higher wages for people as well,” Hershman says.

Indiana is just 7,800 jobs away from what’s called peak employment, the most Hoosiers employed at once, a record set in the summer of 2000.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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