Uric Dufrene

Uric Dufrene

SOUTHERN INDIANA — Though still not back to pre-pandemic levels, a jobs report issued Wednesday showed encouraging signs for the region.

The Louisville Metro Statistical Area — which includes Floyd and Clark counties — saw its jobless rate decrease from 11.8 percent in May to 6.4 percent in June. The number of unemployed for the region was about 41,000 for the month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number is down from 76,000 in May and a peak of 109,000 in April.

“The region has made tremendous progress in reducing the number of unemployed,” said Uric Dufrene, Sanders Chair in Business at Indiana University Southeast.

“Equally impressive, the number of unemployed declined, with the labor force remaining basically flat from May to June.”

That means the metro area’s jobless rate drop is due to people going back to work instead of falling out of the labor force, he said.

Louisville Metro added about 46,000 jobs from May to June, but is still down about 66,000 positions from the pre-pandemic high. However, the June rise in payrolls makes for the largest increase for Louisville Metro since 1990.

Of the 51 metro areas with a population of at least one million, Louisville Metro had the second lowest jobless rate in June behind Salt Lake City’s 6.2 percent.

“This is a very encouraging report for the metro area,” Dufrene said. “Jobs are returning, and the number of unemployed is declining.”

According to a study by MoneyGeek, Indiana has one of the highest percentages among states for job recovery since February.

The study shows Indiana had recovered about 62% of jobs lost since the pandemic as of mid-June. After more than 600,000 jobs were shed, the state has recovered about 377,000 positions, according to the study.

With Congress considering more stimulus funding, a panel of experts interviewed for the study weighed in on the effects of previous government efforts to assist businesses, employees and families during COVID-19.

“The significant bounce in the non-farm payrolls data in May and June suggested that some of the fiscal policy measures enacted were working,” said Megan Greene, Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

A number of hourly service workers were able to return to work due to the Paycheck Protection Program, she continued. But Greene warned when that funding is spent, layoffs could ensue.

“We may see a reversal in July as firms run out of PPP money, even as the time they’ve been granted to use it has been extended. When this happens, they will have to lay off workers to stay afloat.”

The full study can be viewed at www.moneygeek.com/coronavirus/states-most-jobs-lost-coronavirus/.

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