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October unemployment rate improves significantly but labor force continues to slump

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(Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Indiana’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.3 percent for October, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that measurement is almost back to pre-COVID-19 levels, the number of people ready to work isn’t. 

The unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage points from September's rate of 3.5 percent. Even so, the BLS revised that September rate 0.5 percentage points lower than it previously reported.

Each month, BLS has an opportunity to revise preliminary information. 

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The decrease is driven by fewer people who say they’re ready to work. But that doesn’t necessarily mean those people found jobs – just that they stopped looking for one.

For October, data shows the labor force – meaning the total number of Hoosiers working or looking for work – dropped to levels the state hasn’t experienced since last summer, before the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine. Economists agree that’s a key number to watch along with the unemployment rate to gauge economic health.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

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