Indiana adds 8,200 private-sector jobs; unemployment rate shows lilttle change

INDIANAPOLIS - Despite the fact that Indiana added more than 8,000 jobs in January, the state's unemployment rate rose to 8.6 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Indiana experienced significant job gains in the private sector, but the 1,000 households that were surveyed showed a 0.3 percent increase in unemployment due to more Hoosiers still in the job market.

Scott Sanders, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said that the report could appear confusing at first glance.

"It is very confusing when BLS has survey data from 5,000 businesses showing continued increases in employment, while the household survey continues to show employment below what businesses are reporting," Sanders said.

According to the report, Indiana sectors that showed the most significant gains were business services and hospitality.

Some State Workforce Development officials question those numbers, which come from the federal government.

"This is not the first time that we've called into question the numbers, their methodology," said Joe Frank, with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. "They have changed a few variables here and there. Of course, nothing intentional. We're not alleging anything intentional. But the numbers just do look funny."

Democratic House Leader Scott Pelath said the numbers show that what Indiana is doing isn't working and that the state's current leaders just don't get it. He believes implementing health care expansion would provide the new jobs Hoosiers need.

"We have to be empowering the middle class," Pelath said. "We need to work very aggressively to do that.  And we have one measure that would put 30,000 people to work today, or at least begin hiring 30,000 people if we can aggressively move toward implementing health care expansion here in Indiana."

 

Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley said it's unclear how the numbers will affect the tax cut plan.
 
"Obviously it shows that the recovery is sort of a fits-and-starts thing," said Kenley - R, Noblesville. "I mean, it's good that we have more jobs, but at the same time, clearly the unemployment picture says that we just have a mediocre recovery at this point."
 
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence issued a short statement saying the numbers show that the economy is still struggling and urging lawmakers to hold down spending and enact his tax cut.
 
Indiana's unemployment numbers for February will be released next week.
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