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Unemployment Rate Improves, But Shrinking Labor Force A Cause For Concern

Justin Hicks/IPB News

The unemployment rate in Indiana continues to creep lower according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It estimates 3.9 percent of the state’s available labor force was unemployed in March, down just 0.1 percentage points from February. 

However, the state’s labor force – the number of people looking for work or already working – shrunk to its lowest point since October as concerns mount over a steady increase in COVID-19 cases.

Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne told workforce leaders on Thursday that's a number to watch closely since it means more people are “on the sidelines” for a variety of reasons.

“I just continue to ask that you look at ways to pull people into the workforce as well as continue to skill them up,” Payne said.

READ MORE: How Will Indiana Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines? Here's What You Need To Know

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Meanwhile, hiring showed improvement last month in Leisure and Hospitality jobs, one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.

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

Justin Hicks joined the reporting team for Indiana Public Broadcasting News (IPB News) through funding made available by (IPBS) Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations. Justin was based out of WVPE in his new role as a Workforce Development Reporter for IPB News.