Northwest Indiana's unemployment rate fell to 3.8% in May, hitting its lowest point since May 2017 after dropping by half a percent, but the latest unemployment figures weren't all good news about the local economy.
"The latest data for Northwest Indiana was a mixed bag for the Region, and shows that while our region’s labor force and employed population shrank from the previous month, overall unemployment also decreased," wrote Linda Woloshansky, the president and chief executive officer of the Valparaiso-based Center of Workforce Innovations, in the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board's Northwest Indiana Labor Market Highlights Report. "Northwest Indiana's labor force has contracted by 5,901 since April, and is also down from the same month the previous year."
There have been bright spots. The leisure and hospitality industry has been thriving in Northwest Indiana, adding thousands of jobs so far this year.
"Looking more closely at industry employment, the leisure and hospitality industry experienced the largest gain from the previous month for the third month in a row, adding 900 jobs since April and 3,400 since February," Woloshansky wrote. "Compared to the previous year, the industry's employment is up 2%. Education and health services employment saw the largest decline from the previous month, losing 200 jobs. Despite this month’s decline, employment is up 1% from May 2018."
Indiana's unemployment rate stood at 3.6% in May, which was tied with the national average and dead in the middle at 25th nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Hoosier state does however have a higher percentage of working-age adults in the workforce or actively seeking work than the national average.
"On a state level, Indiana's labor force has outperformed the national average for 59 months in a row. Indiana's rate is currently 65.% vs. 62.8% for national," Woloshansky wrote.