Indiana adds jobs but unemployment rate doesn’t seem to reflect that

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Outside the Work One Center in west Indianapolis, you might not hear what you’d expect at a time when the state unemployment rate is once again inching upward.

“When I want a job, I hit up a temp service and I get a job,” said Andre Giden, who is no longer unemployed. “So if I can do it, somebody else can do it.”

Alex Husney agreed that there is work to be had right now. He is currently looking to work his way back into a managerial role, which he had before the recession.

“It’s not that hard to find a job, if you’re looking for an odd job,” Husney said. “It’s hard to find a professional job if you’re used to professional jobs in the past.”

On Monday, the president of GEICO announced that the company is bringing at least 1,200 jobs to Carmel. It’s just the latest in a string of 19 months of private sector job growth in the state.

“It is good news for all the people of Indiana,” said Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

So why doesn’t the unemployment rate reflect that good news? State officials are asking the same question.

“The numbers don’t look correct,” said Joe Frank, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

In January, the U.S. Department of Labor found that Indiana added more than 8,200 Private Sector jobs, but the state unemployment rate still increased slightly to 8.6 percent. One explanation for the discrepancy can be found in federal household surveys which show that 14,000 Hoosiers entered, or re-entered, the workforce.

Still, state officials say the additional workforce still doesn’t seem to fully explain the rise in unemployment.

“We feel that the unemployment rate is a little bit inflated,” Frank said. “If those numbers aren’t correct it can mess with people looking for jobs, people buying things and businesses looking to hire people.”

Frank said the numbers could be impacted by tweaks to the way the federal surveys are conducted and tabulated month-to-month. He said Workforce Development doesn’t believe the discrepancy is intentional.

“We don’t feel that it’s anything specifically underhanded that’s been done, or anything political, it’s just a few pieces of the methodology have changed over the past few years,” Frank said. “This month there’s about nine other states that are questioning the results.”

Regardless of what the numbers actually are, Governor Pence said it’s still clear the state has work to do.

“The bottom line is the unemployment rate is too high in the Hoosier state,” Pence said. “As I travel around Indiana it’s very clear, despite the progress that we’ve made, Indiana’s economy is still struggling.”

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