Uric Dufrene-1

Uric Dufrene, Sanders Chair of Business at IUS

SOUTHERN INDIANA — While Indiana’s jobless rate was well under the national average in October, it was coupled with another significant decline in the state’s labor force.

A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Friday recorded Indiana’s unemployment rate at 3.3% in October. The national rate for the month was 4.6%.

While the number of unemployed Hoosiers dropped by about 7,000, the state’s labor force also declined by 9,000.

Uric Dufrene, Sanders Chair in Business at Indiana University Southeast, said that while it was encouraging to see the state add 14,800 jobs last month, the sluggishness of the labor force remains a concern.

“It will become increasingly difficult to grow jobs at this rate if we do not begin to see sustained increases in the labor force,” Dufrene said Friday. “Not only will this have an impact on growing jobs with current companies, but in the state’s ability to attract new companies to the state.”

Manufacturing had a strong month, as the sector added about 6,000 jobs in Indiana. Dufrene predicted the sector will continue to grow.

“Lean inventory levels nationwide, and high new unfilled orders are producing significant production demands in manufacturing,” he said.

“Supply chain issues are also creating pent-up demand in some industries, such as automotive. I’m also expecting some of these supply chain issues to push demand back to 2022, resulting in robust manufacturing growth.”

Kentucky saw a small increase in its labor force last month, but only added 3,000 jobs from September to October. Kentucky’s jobless rate dipped from 4.3 to 4.2% last month.

“I am still optimistic that we will begin to see gains to the labor force moving into next year,” Dufrene said. “That does remain a big question mark currently.”

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