COMMENTARY | The unemployment rate in Indiana went up to 8.2 percent in December 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While unemployment rates continue to fluctuate across the country, Indiana's rate is rising. It continues to be higher than the national unemployment rate, currently at 7.8 percent, and this is one issue that the state must address immediately.
Compared to surrounding states, Indiana's rate is higher, but the main problem is that the state lacks a clear plan for dealing with unemployment. The Associated Press reported that Gov. Mike Pence discussed the high unemployment rate at the state of the state address on Jan. 22. Although he provided some ideas for expanding job training and using vocational programs, a clear and more comprehensive plan is still missing.
Gov. Pence has suggested that job training and education programs could help fight the rising unemployment rate in the state. This idea also hinges on retraining people to fit available jobs. Although the concept seems to solve the issue of employees not finding enough qualified people to apply for the jobs, the reality of training thousands of unemployed people in Indiana is a daunting task. In addition, financing the process needs to be addressed.
The actual number of unemployed individuals in Indiana may be higher than 8.2 percent, considering the data excludes people who have stopped searching for work. A comparison of Indiana's labor force in 2009 and 2012 reveals a dramatic difference because the state lost 96,021 jobs. Job growth rates seem to be stalled and increasing at a very slow pace. In December, Indiana only added 8,300 jobs, according to the state. Job training and education programs may not be enough to solve this problem.