Despite Indiana's unemployment rate rising in December to 8.2 percent, a state official called job growth in 2012 "exceptional."
The jobless rate rose 0.2 percentage point from November's seasonally adjusted rate of 8 percent, according to state and federal government data released Friday.
Indiana's unemployment rate has been at 8 percent or higher for the last seven months. The nation's unemployment rate in December was 7.8 percent. One year ago, Indiana's jobless rate was 8.9 percent.
About 259,800 people were unemployed in Indiana last month. The estimate is based on a survey of residents around the country responding to questions about their employment situations including whether they are working or are looking for work.
However, Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Scott Sanders said the state's unemployment rate increase was largely the result of more than 7,000 unemployed Hoosiers returning to the labor force seeking work.
The number of employees at Indiana non-farm businesses rose by 57,200, or 2 percent, in 2012 to nearly 2.91 million, according to payroll data. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development said last year was the state's largest employment growth in a decade.
“The Hoosier State has increased private sector employment by nearly 157,000 since July 2009, the low point of employment in our state, and has been a national leader in job growth during that period,” Sanders said.
Manufacturing led Indiana's employment sectors in gains during the 2012 calendar year with companies adding 17,500 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. Indiana's manufacturing sector represents about 17 percent of the state's nonfarm employment and about 20 percent of private sector employment.
Northwest Indiana had a more difficult time boosting employment last year. Nonfarm employment in the Gary metropolitan area was down by 6,500, or 2.4 percent, in December compared to December 2011, according to data not adjusted for seasonal employment changes. The area includes Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties.
The unemployment rate in Illinois remained the same in December from a month earlier at 8.7 percent. The unemployment rates in Ohio and Kentucky fell to 6.7 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively, in December, while Michigan's unemployment rate was flat at 8.9 percent from November.