Fewer Johnson County residents are out of work now than in the past six years.
The unemployment rate in the county dropped to 4.6 percent in April, which is the lowest it has been since 2008.
Prior to 2008, far more people in the county were working than is typical because of a booming economy before the recession, said Matt Will, associate professor of finance at the University of Indianapolis. For example, in 2007, the county had an incredibly low average unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, he said.
Since the end of 2008, Johnson County’s unemployment rate stayed above 5 percent until last month.
Last month’s unemployment rate was down from the county’s rate in March, which was 5.2 percent. The unemployment rate in April fell from 6 percent in
April 2013, according to data from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
The statistics reflect an improving economy nationally because of government stability and locally due to the county’s many logistics companies, which benefited from the harsh winter, Will said.
Trucks were unable to deliver products, such as furniture and washing machines, and residents delayed getting out and spending, which has kept local logistics companies busy this spring, Will said.
The pent up demand for products has improved the economy locally, which could be all it takes to start a lasting cycle of residents spending money and businesses making more products and hiring workers, he said.
“Once you get going, you’ve got momentum. I’m hoping that this is going to push not just Indiana, but the whole country that had a rough winter,” Will said.
The momentum is reflected in the number of help wanted and now hiring signs appearing at local businesses, including at automotive manufacturer KYB Americas, Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said. The now hiring sign at KYB advertises pay rates of $16 to $18.50 per hour, which is at and above the county’s average, he said.
“That’s obviously a great sign of what’s going on,” he said.
The county can’t get to zero unemployment. Having about 5 percent of a local workforce not working is considered typical, due to people retiring or graduating from college and looking for work, Will said.
“It doesn’t get much better than that. Anything below 5 percent is an impressive figure,”
he said. “You always have people in transition.”