Indiana's unemployment rate increased slightly in February, up 0.1 percent from January to 8.7 percent, according to government data released Friday.
Figures show 293,170 Hoosiers were unemployed in February.
For the second month in a row, Indiana experienced a swell in the labor force, adding 7,500 Hoosiers, 3,800 of whom were unemployed individuals who began looking for work again, according to the Department of Workforce Development.
The January and February labor force increase of nearly 22,000 people is the largest two-month climb in nearly 20 years, the department stated.
“While the extraordinary jump in the Hoosier labor force over the past two months tells us folks are optimistic about Indiana’s economic recovery, the unemployment rate is still too high,” said Scott Sanders, commissioner of the department, in a statement. “Job growth is certainly moving in the right direction, but there is definitely a good deal more work to do.”
Indiana continued a steady trend of private sector expansion in February, adding 5,800 jobs, maintaining a streak of growth dating back to July 2011.
During the past year, manufacturing job growth in Indiana has more than tripled the national average, at 3.3 percent compared to 0.9 percent.
Unemployment rates in the region showed little change in February.
Lake County's unemployment rate dropped slightly to 11.2 percent in February, from 11.3 percent in January. Porter County's rate dipped to 9 percent from January's 9.3 percent, while LaPorte County's rate remained steady at 12 percent.
Unemployment in the Hoosier state remains lower than Illinois, which is at 9.5 percent, but higher than the national rate of 7.7 percent.