By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
The latest Louisville Metro Statistical Area labor report showed unemployment dropped by 1.2 percent locally from February 2011 to February 2012.
The study, released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week, reported the area’s jobless rate at 9.5 percent for February, down from the 10.7 percent mark in February 2011.
But the number of unemployed “remains stubbornly high in the metro region” said Uric Dufrene, Sanders Chair of the Indiana University Southeast School of Business.
From January to February, the unemployment rate for the area — which includes Floyd and Clark counties — dropped from 9.6 to 9.5 percent. There was an increase of about 2,000 in the labor force from January to February, and the Louisville Metro Statistical Area saw about 7,300 new entries into its labor force from February 2011.
But the growth of the labor market is still lower than traditional averages, Dufrene said.
“On a percent basis, the 7,300 addition from last year is a relatively weak number,” he said.
The number of unemployed in the area from February 2011 has decreased by about 7,000, leaving the number of jobless at about 60,300. The study showed that the Louisville Metro Statistical Area’s job growth may be slowing compared to the last quarter of 2011, Dufrene said.
“The latest national report out last Friday suggests that metro areas may also see a deceleration in job gains in the next couple of months,” he added. “While the region continues to experience a recovery, we still have a long way to go.”
Indiana’s unemployment rate decline from January to February of 8.7 percent to 8.4 percent was touted by Mark W. Everson, Commissioner of Indiana Workforce Development.
“Since February 2011, Indiana’s labor force grew by 40,600 or 1.3 percent, outpacing the national growth and in sharp contrast to our neighboring states that saw their labor forces shrink,” Everson said in March.
While Dufrene predicted a “return to nonfarm payrolls that existed at the start of the recession,” he cautioned that risks remain to economic recovery.
“We have to continue to monitor the impact of higher gas prices on consumer confidence, and the impact on consumer items such as durable goods, a key driver for the Louisville Metro economy,” he said.