Given the long spell of relative success enjoyed by the state economy, changes will seem especially abrupt.
The most dramatic signal of impending change comes in the weekly reports on unemployment claims throughout the state. The weakness in fourth-quarter consumer spending on durable goods, coming on top of the six-month-long slowdown in business spending on equipment, has taken a toll on the state's manufacturers.
Furloughs began in earnest at the mid-point of December, when claims by laid-off workers on the unemployment insurance system pushed total claims to more than 70,000, more than double the count at this same point one year earlier. These changes will show up in Indiana unemployment rates.
For the last several years, many Midwest manufacturing facilities have been running at or near capacity to meet the demand of the then-surging national economy. This led many observers to hope that a mild downturn could be accommodated without resorting to the sort of closures and permanent layoffs that wreaked such havoc on the region's economy 20 years ago.
Latest Previous Year Period Period Ago Employment (000) U.S. Dec. 00 131,953.0 131,848.0 130,038.0 Indiana Dec. 00 3,021.9 3,030.0 3,021.5 Manufacturing Employment (000) U.S. Dec. 00 18,301.0 18,363.0 18,479.0 Indiana Dec. 00 682.4 685.5 693.0 Non-manufacturing Employment (000) U.S. Dec. 00 113,652.0 113,485.0 111,559.0 Indiana Dec. 00 2,339.5...