Indiana’s April labor market mostly unfazed despite major layoffs. Employment at record high, again
Announcements of layoffs at major Indiana-based employers like Cook Medical and Formstack drew attention this week. However, other companies' layoffs earlier in the year haven’t affected the state’s employment numbers much – yet.
Cook Medical announced it is cutting about 120 jobs in Indiana. More than twice as many jobs were lost in the closure of a South Bend Walmart last month. And there have been hundreds of other layoffs across the state since 2023 began.
As significant and potentially scary as that may be, new employment estimates for April aren't flashing red. The data, released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are preliminary estimates that may be adjusted a month later.
Indiana's unemployment rate is still at a near-historic low of 3 percent. That’s a statistically insignificant decrease after a four month streak at 3.1 percent.
The total number of people employed for the state is also at a 10-year high again, beating previous record-breaking employment totals.
Most major Indiana industries saw year-over-year growth in employment, though the growth in manufacturing has slowed significantly. The percent change for manufacturing between April 2022 and April 2023 was only 0.01 percent. That is a significant decrease from the 12-month percent change reported in each month of 2022.
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The information industry, which includes broadcasters, librarians and computer programers, is a notable exception. That industry has experienced a loss of 3 percent of its workers compared to last year.
The industry numbers do vary in parts of the state. In the Elkhart metro area, for example, manufacturing has seen a year-over-year loss in total employment for each of the last six months. And those losses grow with each new estimate. Total employment was also down in that region for all private, non-farm jobs compared to last year.
Despite that, the statewide estimates still suggest workers were in demand through April. Only 63.6 percent of Indiana’s working-age population is participating in the labor force. Indiana’s peak labor participation rate over the last decade was only two points higher, at about 65 percent. But that difference could be significant in terms of the state’s ability to meet employers’ needs, experts say.
All of that doesn't really say much about where the market stands at this exact moment or where it will go. So far, it has beaten some gloomy predictions, leading to a mixture of confidence and fear among state and federal officials, business leaders and economists.
Adam is our labor and employment reporter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @arayesIPB.