Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Indiana loses another 2,100 jobs

Indiana lost 2,100 jobs last month, but officials at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation don't want to talk about it.

Indiana has added more than 5,000 jobs in the past year, and unemployment fell to 4.5 percent in May, the lowest rate since September 2001, according to government data released Tuesday.

A year ago, the state's unemployment rate was 5.1 percent.

Some observers say the economy may be starting to rebound -- even the hard-hit manufacturing sector that has seen large layoffs at auto-supply plants.

"We're seeing it in all sectors -- in manufacturing, HR, finance," said Teresa Hinkle, regional director in Central Indiana for staffing company Manpower, which helps companies find temporary and permanent workers.

Hinkle said business has improved noticeably from a steep falloff two years ago.

When Manpower surveyed employers recently, 46 percent said they planned to increase hiring from July to September, compared with 18 percent in the previous quarter.

In some cases, employers who cut too many jobs are rehiring former workers, Hinkle said. Other employers are expanding.

About 5,200 more jobs were reported in May from a year ago, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Overall, manufacturing continued to suffer, dropping 9,400 jobs in the past year. But some major manufacturers -- such as Cummins, Rolls-Royce and Pfizer -- are adding jobs.

From January through May, the overall number of jobs has risen by 4,300 statewide. A year ago, the state lost 3,300 jobs during the same period.

Democrats, however, pointed to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday that showed Indiana lost 2,100 jobs from April to May, the fourth-highest decline behind Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin.

"How many more months of lackluster results do we have to endure before Mitch Daniels admits that his 'economic hot streak' talking points don't match up with Indiana's economic reality?" asked Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker in a news release.

Nathan Feltman, secretary of commerce and president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., stressed the decline in the unemployment rate.

"It's good news, obviously," he said.

Feltman said results of deals the state has made to attract new employers, such as Honda and Nestle, won't show up in statistics for another year or two.

"All the deals we've been working on the past two years -- most of those jobs have yet to come online," he said.

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