News and Tribune

Clark County

December 21, 2012

Latest unemployment report a mixed bag for Indiana

Jobless rate remains flat, however payrolls down by more than 9,000

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Indiana’s unemployment rate last month was more than 1 percent lower than in November of 2011 according to a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday.

The state’s jobless mark was 8 percent in November, as it remained flat from the previous month. In November of 2011, Indiana’s unemployment rate was 9.1 percent.

The unemployment rate in both Clark and Floyd counties dropped slightly from 6.9 percent in October to 6.8 percent last month.

While the jobless numbers may be better than last year, there was a significant drop in nonfarm payrolls last month. Total payrolls for Indiana dropped by about 9,100 positions from October to November, which accounted for the steepest monthly decrease since September of 2010.

“Year-over-year, Indiana continues to be in very favorable territory,” said Uric Dufrene, Sanders Chair of the Indiana University Southeast School of Business.

“However, the year-over-year gains have certainly decelerated over the past quarter, and [Friday’s] drop magnified that year-over-year decline.”

The construction sector shed 6,200 positions from October to November, and the professional and business services sector dropped 5,200 jobs from month-to-month in Indiana.

“Construction has been very flat for Indiana,” Dufrene said. “Compared to last year, payrolls are down by almost 1,000, despite the presence of some recovery in housing.”

Dufrene said most of the decline in the professional and business services sector came from the employment services industry.

“It is too early to tell what the decline in employment services represents, but likely reflective of weak demand,” he said.

State officials also cited losses in the “seasonally-volatile” construction industry for the decline in payrolls last month.

“While November’s news is not characteristic of what Indiana has experienced lately, we continue to significantly outpace the national average of job growth over the past year,” said Scott B. Sanders, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

He added that even with last month’s losses, Indiana has still added almost 144,000 jobs since July of 2009, the lowest point of the most recent recession.

There were some positive signs in the latest report, including payroll gains of about 7,000 positions between the trade, transportation and utilities as well as the education and health services sectors.

Despite the month-to-month decline, Indiana is still up about 10,000 jobs since November of last year.

Dufrene pointed out some of the most favorable results of the survey were in retail trade, as 3,400 jobs were gained in the sector last month.

“However, when we look at the decline in professional and business services, construction, and leisure and hospitality, the report indicates that payroll growth has definitely weakened for Indiana,” he said.

But on a positive note, there was no decline in manufacturing last month, Dufrene continued.

“Even though national manufacturing has contracted, and is now at the lowest level since mid-2009, Indiana manufacturers continue to hold their own,” he said.

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