Bartholomew County tied for the third-lowest unemployment rate in the state in August and has seen its labor force grow by nearly 1,500 people in the past year.
The county’s 6 percent unemployment rate trailed only Dubois (5.3) and Hamilton (5.8) counties and tied Daviess County, according to information released by Indiana Workforce Development.
The state average was 8 percent unemployment. Regionally, four counties fared better than the state average (Brown, 6.9; Johnson, 6.9; Jackson, 7; and Shelby, 7.1) while two were worse (Decatur, 8.3; and Jennings, 9.4).
Bartholomew County’s unemployment rate fell 1.6 percentage points from August 2011 because of a growing workforce during that 12-month span, according to data for metropolitan statistical areas, such as Columbus, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Columbus area’s labor force grew 3.6 percent (from 40,721 to 42,169); the number of people employed grew 5.3 percent (37,628 to 39,625); and the number of people unemployed dropped 18.6 percent (3,093 to 2,517).
“I keep seeing employment here in Columbus — or the MSA, which is all of Bartholomew County — that is ticking up stronger than the labor force, suggesting a pull of workers who do not also reside here,” said Michael Oakes, MBA director and senior lecturer in finance at IUPUC.
He said Cummins Inc.’s recently announced hiring freeze would not have affected the August figures.
From July to August of this year, the county’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.1 to 6 percent, even though 692 fewer people were employed in the Columbus metropolitan area, and the labor force shrank by 817 people. That’s because only 125 fewer people were unemployed.
“That’s likely seasonal, however, such as changes in working patterns for students,” Oakes said. “The August labor force in Columbus is nearly always a little lower than in July.”
On the national level, the declining labor force is a concern because it implies more people are giving up looking for work, Oakes said.
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