INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s unemployment rate dropped last month as the state’s economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which began disrupting jobs in March.
The state unemployment rate for September was 6.2%, according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s below the national rate, 7.9%, and only a slight decrease from the state unemployment rate of 6.4% in August.
Overall, some 19,691 Hoosiers left the labor force in September, a total that represents 6,289 new unemployed residents and a 13,402 decrease in employed residents.
Employment in the private sector continues to see sharp declines. In September, private sector employment decreased by 4,500 jobs, and the sector has reported some 109,700 lost jobs over the year. The latest monthly decrease is mostly due to job losses in education and health services, where some 4,000 people lost jobs, and in construction, which saw 1,300 jobs lost.
The professional and business services sectors, however, saw 2,000 jobs gained in the last month. Another 800 jobs were added in the leisure and hospitality sectors.
Indiana is faring better than some of its neighbors in the Midwest. Illinois reported a 10.2% unemployment rate for September, while Michigan and Ohio reported rates of 8.5% and 8.4% respectively. Other states in the region, including Kentucky, Minnesota and Wisconsin, are reporting unemployment rates between 5% and 6%.
Indiana’s labor force includes 3.33 million people. The state’s 63% labor force participation rate is above the national rate, 61.4%.
State leaders are moving forward with the Back on Track reopening plan, despite record-breaking case number increases and COVID-19 hospitalization rates not seen since early May.
Tuesday, the Indiana State Department of Health reported another 1,551 Hoosiers were diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the total to 150,664. Also, 48 more people have died from the novel coronavirus for a total of 3,775, but the total number exceeds 4,000 when another 233 probable deaths are included. In addition, more than 1,400 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, a level not seen since early to mid-May.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has repeatedly defended the decision to move forward with reopening, particularly in the interest of protecting livelihoods. He urged citizens to wear masks and practice social distancing as the pandemic continues.
But others have criticized the governor for choosing to reopen. His opponent in the 2020 election, Democrat Dr. Woody Myers, is a former state health commissioner and said there should be more restrictions again until case numbers and hospitalizations are under control.
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