Local unemployment ticked up in October

Bartholomew County’s unemployment rate increased in October but was still among the lowest in Indiana.

The jobless rate in Bartholomew County stood at 2.8% in October, up from 2.4% in October 2022 and tied for the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the state, according to figures released Monday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

U.S. unemployment was 3.9% in October, up from 3.7% in October 2022. Statewide, unemployment in Indiana was 3.6%, up from 3.2% from a year earlier.

In Jackson County, the jobless rate stood at 2.8% last month, up from 2.7% in October 2022, while unemployment in Jennings County was 3.1%, up from 3% a year earlier.

The update from state officials comes days after the federal government reported that more Americans filed for jobless claims last week amid growing signs that it may finally be cooling, The Associated Press reported.

Applications for unemployment benefits rose by 13,000 to 231,000 for the week ending Nov. 11, the Labor Department reported this past Thursday, according to wire reports. That’s the most in three months.

Jobless claim applications are seen as representative of the number of layoffs in a given week.

The Federal Reserve has been tapping the brakes on the economy and the labor market for nearly two years, trying to stem what was the highest inflation in four decades. The central bank raised its benchmark rate 11 times since March of 2022 as part of that effort.

Yet for months it seemed as though the aggressive actions from the Fed had little impact and companies have been forced to pay more to land employees, according to wire reports.

Cracks, however, may be starting to show.

Overall, 1.87 million people were collecting unemployment benefits the week that ended Nov. 4, about 32,000 more than the previous week and the most in almost two years, according to wire reports. It was the sixth straight week that continuing claims rose.

Economists suggest that continuing claims are steadily rising because many of those who are already unemployed may now be having a harder time finding work, an indication that the labor market is looser than it’s been in the post-pandemic era.

U.S. employers slowed their hiring in October, adding a modest but decent 150,000 jobs, according to the AP. It’s only the third time in almost three years that monthly job gains have come in under 200,000. Yet all three of those instances have come in the past five months.

Fed officials opted to leave the benchmark rate alone at their most recent policy meeting. Another increase before the end of the year has not been ruled out, yet recent data showed that inflation is continuing to ebb, a priority for Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

Overall inflation didn’t rise from September to October, the first time that consumer prices collectively haven’t budged from one month to another in more than a year, according to wire reports. Compared with a year earlier, prices rose 3.2% in October, the smallest such rise since June, though still above the Fed’s 2% inflation target.

The four-week moving average of jobless claim applications, which flattens out some of weekly volatility, rose by 7,750 to 220,250.

Locally, 23 workers filed initial unemployment claims the week ending Nov. 11, down from 29 the previous week, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

A total of 143 Bartholomew County workers were drawing jobless benefits the week ending Nov. 4, up from 137 the week before, according to the most recent data.