Displaced workers and the young alike flocked to colleges during the recession, a trend that is now ebbing as job growth accelerates.
"That's an indication the economy is getting stronger, because people say, 'Hey, the economy is getting better, I can go out and get a job now,'" said Don Coffin, professor of economics at Indiana University Northwest.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 243,000 jobs were created in January and the national unemployment rate ticked down to 8.3 percent.
Colleges continue to deal with tight budgets. In the case of state universities, dwindling state support has driven tuition increases. State lawmakers have made noise they will take aim at those increases, even though they are the ones who have cut the state's support.
The job picture in Northwest Indiana brightened some at year end, as the regional economy added 1,600 jobs in December, a month when the number of jobs usually drops, Coffin said. Whether that trend holds will be seen when the local January jobs report is issued.