The monthly state-level employment summary this week reported that Indiana lost 4,200 jobs in August, while the nation as a whole saw a tad more than 250,000 new jobs created. This was worse than the July jobs report, where Indiana picked up a paltry 10,000 jobs out of the 1.1 million created nationally. That’s less than half the job creation rate we should’ve experienced. The national economy is slowing quickly once again due to COVID, and with Indiana’s low vaccine rate, we should be unsurprised by our relatively poor economic performance. Still, it is good to think through the many possible causes of our slowing economy.

Business leaders continue to complain about few applications to open jobs. A trip to any fast food restaurant or retailer confirms their challenge. Still, in the first two weeks in August when this jobs survey was taken, 18,000 Hoosier workers lost unemployment insurance. We should doubt the argument that generous UI benefits are keeping large numbers of workers at home in meaningful numbers. Something else is happening in labor markets.

Michael J. Hicks, PhD, is the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research and the George and Frances Ball distinguished professor of economics in the Miller College of Business at Ball State University. Hicks earned doctoral and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Virginia Military Institute. He has authored two books and more than 60 scholarly works focusing on state and local public policy, including tax and expenditure policy and the impact of Wal-Mart on local economies. Michael Hicks can be reached at cberdirector@bsu.edu.