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New employment estimates show little change in Indiana's labor market. The data has some limitations

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development Building, shot from grown level so that only a few levels on the upper corner of the building and the sky are visible. A sign on the building reads "A state that works"
FILE PHOTO: Justin Hicks
IPB News
Along with not being useful indicators of where the labor market is going, this data is sometimes also not a super reliable measure of where the labor market has been.

Indiana's unemployment rate was just above 3.2 percent in June, new federal estimates show. The unemployment rate has hovered between 3 percent and 3.2 percent since late 2022 and has been accompanied by record-high total employment.

But the labor market is seeing some more variation at the local level.

There are a few important things to know about the state and local labor market data the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics releases every month.

First: they're old numbers. They measure the labor market a month or two months prior — not the current market. Rachel Blakeman, director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue Fort Wayne, and other experts often call these numbers “lagging indicators.”

Second: the data are estimates. So while these are often the best numbers available, there is room for error. The newest estimates are always preliminary — meaning they're rechecked and potentially revised in the next month's release.

But those revisions aren’t always perfect either. BLS sometimes re-revises the monthly numbers years later. For example, the estimated unemployment, employment and labor force numbers at the state and local level for every month between January 2018 and December 2021 was revised again this March.

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So along with not being useful indicators of where the labor market is going, this data is sometimes also not a super reliable measure of where the labor market has been.

With that in mind, there are some state and local trends that have been consistent over the past few months. Indiana's manufacturing workforce shrunk slightly in June, May and April of this year compared to the same months last year.

The year-over-year manufacturing workforce losses have been more pronounced in areas like Elkhart. But some parts of the state like Indianapolis saw their manufacturing workforces grow in these preliminary estimates compared to last June.

That sort of uneven local growth and shrinkage is present in a few other industries too.

Adam is our labor and employment reporter. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @arayesIPB.

Adam is Indiana Public Broadcasting's labor and employment reporter. He was born and raised in southeast Michigan, where he got his first job as a sandwich artist at Subway in high school. After graduating from Western Michigan University in 2019, he joined Michigan Radio's Stateside show as a production assistant. He then became the rural and small communities reporter at KUNC in Northern Colorado.