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Bartholomew County in 2012 had the best job market in four years; but the torrential job growth from the early part of the year, which was among the best in the nation, slowed to a trickle at the end of the year.
An economic and a financial adviser said, however, that it was too early to tell whether local job growth has hit a plateau.
The December unemployment rate, at 6.6 percent, was the lowest rate recorded in a December since 2008; but it also was the highest rate this year since February.
While the rate had fallen by 0.1 percentage point from December 2011, it was up 0.7 percentage point from November 2012.
Comparing December 2011 to December 2012, the county’s employers added 243 jobs, the smallest year-over-year increase in more than two years. It also was significantly below the growth recorded in the last three months of 2011 and the first four months of 2012, when year-over-year job gains on average exceeded 3,100.
Michael Oakes, MBA director and senior lecturer in finance at IUPUC, said that the significant growth the county’s job market has seen in the past two years cannot continue forever.
Sooner or later, Oakes said, growth will slow and perhaps even hit a plateau before new ideas take root and growth resumes.
Oakes said he would look at the data coming up over the next month or two before drawing any conclusions.
“It’s probably too early to know ... what is going on,” he said.
Craig Kessler, president and chief investment officer of Columbus-based Kessler Investment Group, agreed.
Kessler said it’s also reasonable to think that the growth has slowed just temporarily because Cummins has reduced its local workforce by about 150 in the past couple of months and because manufacturers nationwide delayed investments because of fears about the fiscal cliff. That hesitation across the nation also has affected local companies that send their products across the country.
He said employment in Columbus remains historically high, and the number of businesses that have been launched in the past few years point to a strong local economy.
Kessler said that he would wait to see if the current trends are reversed over the next few months before making any final judgments.
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