Unemployment drops in Indiana

Job applications and information for the Gap Factory Store sit on a table during a job fair at Dolphin Mall in Miami.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File

Indiana's jobless rate plunged to 3.2 percent in May, a significant drop from 3.6 percent in March.

The state saw an increase of 8,946 in employment last month, and has added 36,100 jobs so far this year. In May, the state gained 3,100 jobs in private educational and health services and 2,100 in the construction sector.

“Indiana’s unemployment rate reaching its lowest point since 2001 is a testament to the strength of the Hoosier economy; however, it's also indicative of an ever-tightening labor market for Hoosier businesses,” Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Steven Braun said. “I encourage unemployed and underemployed Hoosiers to be steadfast in their job searches and consider training and placement opportunities available at their local WorkOne Career Center.”

Indiana now has a labor force of 3.3 million people, with 64.5 percent participation. 

The Hoosier state's jobless rate is lower than the national average of 4.3 percent. Indiana, whose unemployment rate has consistently been in the middle of the pack nationally and near the bottom of the Midwest for the last several years, now has the 10th lowest jobless rate in the nation.

It now has the sixth lowest jobless rate of the 12 U.S. Census-designated Midwestern states, trailing only North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Illinois has the 35th highest jobless rate nationally after it dropped to 4.6 percent in May, down from 4.7 percent in April. The Prairie State added 2,400 jobs last month, with the biggest gains in construction, education and health services and information services.

“Illinois remains 23,300 jobs short of reaching its prior peak employment reached in September 2000,” Illinois Department of Employment Security Director Jeff Mays said. “If Illinois had grown at the National average over that time, the State would have an additional 650,000 jobs.”

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.