Uric Dufrene

Uric Dufrene

SOUTHERN INDIANA — There was “considerable improvement” on the jobs front locally from April to May, though experts aren’t ready to state that the recession is over.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey released Thursday, the Louisville Metropolitan Statistical Area — which includes Floyd and Clark counties — saw a drop of almost 5 percent in its jobless rate from month to month.

The area’s unemployment rate was 11.9 percent in May, down from 16.8 percent in April.

“The number of unemployed in the metro area declined from approximately 109,000 to 77,000,” said Uric Dufrene, Sanders Chair in Business at Indiana University Southeast.

While 77,000 unemployed workers is high compared to historical numbers, the labor market is moving in the right direction, he continued.

But Dufrene added that establishment numbers aren’t as optimistic for Louisville metro.

Year-over-year payrolls are down about 15 percent, and only about 12,000 jobs were added in May.

“This rate of change is not as high as what we observed nationally for May,” Dufrene said.

The leisure and hospitality sector did gain about 12,000 positions in the area in May, which is a good sign considering the sector has seen the steepest losses during the pandemic.

There was also some good news to be found in a report by the Institute of Supply Management. The ISM Index released Wednesday increased the manufacturing national rating to 52.6.

“This means that nationally, manufacturing is expanding,” Dufrene said. “This should bode well for Louisville and Southern Indiana over the next several months.”

The ISM rating is also supportive of the belief that the recession will be short-lived, he continued.

“I’m not suggesting that the recession is over, but the ISM of 52 does point in the direction of growth,” he said.

Friday also brought good news nationally for the labor market.

A BLS survey showed that 4.8 million jobs were added nationally in June, and the U.S. unemployment rate dropped 13.3 percent to 11.1 percent.

“In June, the number of persons who usually work full-time increased by 2.4 million to 118.9 million, and the number who usually work part-time also rose by 2.4 million to 23.2 million,” said an announcement from BLS regarding the report.

However, non-farm employment was still 9.6 percent lower in June than February, a difference of about 14.7 million jobs.

Elsewhere in Indiana, Kokomo recorded the highest jobless rate among metro areas in the state at 21.8 percent. The Bloomington metro area had the lowest unemployment rate at 7.9 percent.

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