Jason Applegate

Jason Applegate

NEW ALBANY — After several months of bad news on the economic front, some encouraging signs surfaced this week.

The New Albany City Council unanimously approved Thursday two tax abatements for W.M. Kelley Company, Inc. One abatement is for property expansion and the other for equipment, as the New Albany business plans to invest in new manufacturing space, office space and equipment.

The metal fabrication business plans to add 16 jobs worth more than $665,000. Located along Durgee Road, W.M. Kelley Company currently employs 84 people.

The investment in equipment is estimated to cost $1.5 million.

“I think it’s a wonderful investment that we can do for a company that’s investing in New Albany,” said Councilman Jason Applegate, the sponsor of the abatement resolution.

“They’re a 100% employee-owned company here in New Albany.”

City officials said W.M. Kelley outperformed its previous abatement in terms of hiring more employees than it had originally planned.

The average job at W.M. Kelley pays about $20 an hour.

In other employment news, a labor report released Friday showed that Indiana’s jobless mark is lower than the national average.

The state’s unemployment rate fell to 6.4%in August, down from 7.9% in July. The national mark for August was 8.4%.

“More people are coming back to work, with another increase in the labor force of 42,000,” said Uric Dufrene, Sanders Chair in Business at Indiana University Southeast.

“Indiana saw another labor force increase and unemployment decline, the best possible combination.”

Kentucky’s jobless rate increased by 3.1%, but the state actually saw its labor force increase by 173,000 positions. In previous months, Kentucky’s lower unemployment rate was largely attributed to a decline in its labor force.

“However, the increase in the number of unemployed is smaller than the gains in the labor force. So that means that the increase in the labor force also came with additional workers being employed,” Dufrene said.

Overall, Dufrene said the economies in Indiana and Kentucky are bouncing back.

“Both states are adding jobs at a rate that would be considered to be very high in normal times. Both states are making significant progress in the unemployment situation,” he said. “It should be stated that unemployment remains elevated compared to pre-pandemic, but jobs are coming back. The number of unemployed continues to fall in both states.”

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