Indiana's steady unemployment rate for December 2009 and January 2010 is a good thing according to researchers at Ball State University's Center for Business and Economic Research.
According to the Current Population Survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indiana's unemployment rate remained 9.7 percent for those two months, the same as the national average.
CBER researcher Dagney Faulk said Indiana is much better off than other states where unemployment has risen over the past few months.
Labor force is another area that was investigated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor force refers to the number of people looking for work.
Faulk said Indiana's labor force increased from December 2009 to January 2010.
"[This] means more people are working or are actively looking for work, which is a good sign," she said.
During December and January of 2010, the number of unemployed people actually increased, Faulk said, but the unemployment rate didn't go up because it was counteracted by the increase in the labor force.
This increase is part of the reason Faulk concluded the steady 9.7 percent is a good sign.
Indiana's unemployment rate peaked at 10.6 percent in May 2009.
Indiana is doing better than its neighbors for multiple reasons, Faulk said.
"One [reason] is the economy is more diversified," she said. "The second reason would be that the state's fiscal health is better in terms of the state budget."
Faulk said the third reason was that Indiana's tax rates favored businesses.
While she would usually like to have data from a longer time period, she said two months still gave her enough to come to her conclusion.
But this two-month sample is too short a time for Faulk to see if Indiana employment will grow in the long run.
Faulk said Indiana may not be out of the woods quite yet, but compared to other states, she can sum up the Hoosier State's situation in two words:
Statistics from the State Department of Workforce Development and CBER employees:
- The national average for unemployment is 9.7 percent
- Indiana's unemployment rate stayed steady at 9.7 percent in December 2009 and January 2010
- Indiana's annual economic growth is forecasted to reach 3 percent in 2010
- Surrounding states all had increases in unemployment during this period