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Indiana hits new private-sector employment record in February

Members of Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters work at the construction site for Local 1005's new headquarters in Merrillville in 2017. Indiana set a preliminary private-sector employment record in February.

Indiana again set a preliminary record for private sector employment in February, with 2.74 million Hoosiers gainfully employed.

That's 15,500 more workers employed by the state's private sector than during the previous peak in December of 2018, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The number could be subject to revision next month, or to annual benchmarking later. 

The Hoosier state's jobless rate stood at 3.5 percent for February, unchanged from January, according to the DWD.

Indiana added 7,997 more people to the labor force in February, which is those working and those actively seeking work. The Hoosier state gained 1,755 more unemployed residents and 6,242 employed residents last month.

The state added 3,300 jobs in the trade, transportation and utility sector, and 3,300 in the professional and business services sector. Indiana also lost 2,100 jobs in construction and 900 jobs in financial activities.

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Indiana's jobless rate was lower than the national rate of 3.8 percent, and was tied for 21st lowest nationwide with Maine. Indiana's unemployment rate was ninth highest of the 12 U.S. Census Bureau-designated Midwestern states, trailing Iowa, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, and Kansas.

In the Midwest, only Michigan, Illinois and Ohio had higher unemployment rates than Indiana. Illinois had the second-highest jobless rate in the Midwest and the 40th highest overall, with an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in February, unchanged from January.

Illinois lost 12,600 nonfarm jobs in February, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The state gained 3,800 jobs in the professional and business services sector, but lost 5,300 jobs in construction, 4,200 in hospitality, and 4,400 in the trade, transportation and utilities sector.

Year-over-year, nonfarm employment in Illinois has risen by 59,100 jobs, including 13,800 in education and health services, 12,100 in trade, transportation and utilities, and 11,400 in professional and business services. The state-run Illinoisjobslink.com website lists more than 97,000 jobs as currently available.

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Business Reporter

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.