By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
The Louisville Metro Statistical Area labor market rebounded beginning in the third quarter of this year, as the latest jobs report showed increases in employment and a drop in the jobless rate.
According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study, the area’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.4 percent in August, down from 8.2 percent the previous month. In August 2012, the Louisville Metro Statistical Area — which includes Floyd and Clark Counties in Indiana — saw a jobless mark of 8.3 percent.
The downside to the study is that the Louisville labor force dropped from July to August and remained flat from year-to-year.
“So the decline in the unemployment rate is favorable, but this decline is partially driven by [people] exiting the labor force,” said Uric Dufrene, executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at Indiana University Southeast and the former Sanders Chair of the university’s School of Business.
Though the number of people working dropped, the number of jobs available grew by almost 8,000 positions in one month.
“This was one of the most favorable monthly gains in quite some time,” Dufrene said.
The data are preliminary, but it appears to be one of the largest monthly job gains for the area since 2000, he continued.
A strong national jobs report was released Friday. The U.S. Labor Department study showed that employers added 204,000 jobs in October, though unemployment did rise from 7.2 to 7.3 percent.
“It’s amazing how resilient the economy has been in the face of numerous shocks,” said Joe LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, according to The Associated Press.
Of course, one of those big shocks, at least last month, was the federal government shutdown. Friday’s report showed solid payroll gains despite the congressional showdown with the White House that resulted in about 800,000 federal workers being furloughed for more than two weeks.
There are some pressing matters on the jobless front for Congress still to decide. According to the AP, about 1.3 million people will lose their long-term unemployment benefits at the end of the year unless Congress extends the emergency benefits program.
Locally, Dufrene said the area has much to be positive about heading into 2014.
“I do expect, despite the recent government slowdown, that job growth will continue for Louisville, and next year will be quite favorable,” he said. “The manufacturing indicators have turned positive. With the bridges construction and other sector growth, job growth will show some acceleration for the metro region.”