Local unemployment ticked up in October

Unemployment in Bartholomew County ticked up last month compared to October last year, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development said Monday.

The local jobless rate stood at 2.4% in October, up from 2% in October 2021 and 1.8% in September 2022, according to figures released Monday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

At the same time, Bartholomew County’s labor grew over the same period, reaching 43,289 last month, up from 42,449 in October 2021. However, the county’s labor force still remains about 2,300 lower than it was in October 2019, before the pandemic hit.

By comparison, Indiana’s jobless rate was a seasonally adjusted 3%, up slightly from 2.8% in October 2021. U.S. unemployment was a seasonally adjusted 3.7%, down from 4.6% during the same month in 2021.

The update from state officials comes as America’s employers kept hiring vigorously in October, adding 261,000 positions, a sign that the economy remains a picture of solid job growth and painful inflation, The Associated Press reported.

The most recent report from the government, released on Nov. 4, showed that hiring was brisk across industries last month, though the overall gain declined from 315,000 in September, according to wire reports. The unemployment rate rose from a five-decade low of 3.5% in September to a still-healthy 3.7%.

A strong job market is deepening the challenges the Federal Reserve faces as it raises interest rates at the fastest pace since the 1980s to try to bring inflation down from near a 40-hear high, according to wire reports. Steady hiring, solid pay growth and low unemployment have been good for workers. But they have also contributed to rising prices.

The latest data offered hints that the job market might be cooling, if only gradually, as the Fed is hoping to see. Over the past three months, hiring gains have averaged 289,000, down from a sizzling monthly rate of 539,000 a year ago. Average hourly pay, on average, rose 4.7% from a year ago, a smaller year-over-year gain than in September and down from a 16-year peak of 5.6% in March.

The tick-up in the jobless rate occurred because about 300,000 Americans said they were no longer employed. The unemployment rate is calculated from a separate survey from the jobs figure and can sometimes move in a different direction in the short term.

The October jobs report showed that job gains were widespread, according to wire reports. Health care added 53,000, with hospitals and doctors’ offices continuing to re-staff after having lost many workers at the height of the pandemic. Manufacturing added 32,000. A category that includes engineers, accountants and lawyers added 39,000.

Still, some corners of the economy have begun to flag under the weight of rising prices and much higher borrowing costs engineered by the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes, according to the AP. Especially in industries like housing and technology, hiring has waned. Many tech companies, such as the ride-hailing firm Lyft and the payment company Stripe, have announced plans to lay off workers. Amazon says it will suspend its corporate hiring.

For now, the economy is still growing, according to the AP. It expanded at a 2.6% annual rate in the July-September quarter after having contracted in the first six months of the year. With inflation still painfully high and the Fed making borrowing increasingly expensive for consumers and businesses, most economists expect a recession by early next year.