The unemployment rates in the region dipped dramatically, while Indiana's unemployment rate dipped slightly in April, according to government data released Friday.
The Department of Workforce Development reported the jobless rate in Northwest Indiana dropped to 9.1 percent from 10.3 percent in March.
The state's rate decreased to 8.5 percent from the 8.7 percent rate in March, the largest one-month decrease in more than a year. Figures from the Department of Workforce Development show about 251,500 Hoosiers were unemployed in March, while 2.9 million had jobs.
Linda Woloshansky, CEO of the Center of Workforce Innovations in Valparaiso, said part of the reason for the unemployment rate drop is that employers are recognizing employees have too heavy of a workload, and more workers are needed to share the responsibility.
"Overall, there is either more need or more confidence by employers because they've been working so lean and mean for so long, and they're starting to add some employees," Woloshansky said. "There hasn't been hiring for so long."
That, combined with warmer weather, means more companies are hiring.
"Typically, we see more people being hired as the weather gets better," Woloshansky said.
Construction picks up and restaurants see more business starting this time of year, she said.
"Then you've got a lot of parks that hire in the summer," Woloshansky said.
Private sector employment in the Hoosier state also increased by 6,800 jobs over the past month and exceeded the national rate of growth. Indiana now has experienced private sector employment growth in 37 of the past 40 months, according to the department.
April recorded the biggest drop in the total number of unemployed in more than a year. In total, 7,800 fewer Hoosiers were reported unemployed in April than reported in March. Weekly claims for unemployment insurance also decreased by more than 14 percent over the past month and initial claims continue to remain below 2005 levels.
"April’s employment picture is cause for cautious optimism," said Scott Sanders, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. "There is quite a bit more work to do, but things seem to be moving in the right direction, as evidenced by the largest drop in the unemployment rate in over a year."
Sanders also noted that while the number of manufacturing jobs declined in April, manufacturing hours, which increased, have either remained consistent or increased for the fifth consecutive month and have been above the national average for the past four months.
Unemployment rates by county in the region also fell in April.
Lake County's unemployment rate dropped to 9.7 percent, from 10.8 percent in March. Porter County's rate dipped to 7.7 percent from March's 8.7 percent, while LaPorte County's rate dropped to 10.2 percent in April compared to 11.6 in March.
Unemployment in the Hoosier state remains lower than Illinois, which is at 9.3 percent, but higher than the national rate of 7.5 percent