SOUTHERN INDIANA — Not even the Great Recession damaged Indiana employment as much as COVID-19 has, based on a state jobs report released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Indiana’s unemployment rate soared to 16.9 percent in April, up from 3 percent in March. The national jobless rate was 14.7 percent in April.

“In one month, Indiana lost more jobs than the entire gains since the Great Recession,” said Uric Dufrene, Sanders Chair in Business at Indiana University Southeast.

“Indiana saw jobs decline by 402,000 in the month of April. Since the Great Recession, Indiana added approximately 389,000 jobs.”

Unemployment numbers were tracking higher in Clark County and Floyd County than during previous highs of the Great Recession. According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, more than 4,700 Clark County workers filed unemployment claims during the week ending May 2. During the same span, about 2,700 workers in Floyd County filed claims.

Statewide, more than 545,000 Hoosiers were listed as unemployed in April.

The state will release county jobless rates Tuesday.

The leisure and hospitality sector was again hit hard in April, shedding 115,000 jobs during the month.

“To show the magnitude of these losses, leisure and hospitality observed a decline of about 8,000 jobs in the Great Recession,” Dufrene said. “These numbers are simply mind-blowing.”

There were 78,000 job losses in manufacturing in Indiana last month, and 55,000 positions shed in the education and health services sector.

The 16.9 percent jobless mark exceeds the highest rate during the Great Recession for Indiana of almost 11 percent.

“This was the quickest increase in the unemployment rate and quickest decline in jobs since records are available,” Dufrene said.

But the good news is that unemployment claims have been declining and some of the jobs lost should return now that the state is reopening, he continued.

Dufrene predicted that April will go down as the bottom of the recession.

“There is still tremendous uncertainty in the economy largely due to public health concerns,” he said. “I do expect next month’s state jobs report to show improvement from April.”

Though restaurants are operating at limited capacity, many employees in the service industry were called back to work earlier this month after in-person service resumed.

Ian Hall, co-owner of Brooklyn and The Butcher and The Exchange pub+kitchen in New Albany, said last week that after having to lay off the majority of the hourly staff at the two restaurants due to the closures, the majority of those employees returned to work.

“We fully intend on treating this as a best-case scenario as we build our staffing levels back up,” he said.

Indiana certainly wasn’t alone in sustaining high job losses. Employment decreased in all states last month.

Nevada had the highest unemployment rate at 28.2 percent, followed by Michigan(22.7 percent) and Hawaii(22.3 percent).

Connecticut had the lowest rate at 7.9 percent.

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