The number of people working in private-sector jobs in Indiana hit a historic high last month, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
The department's July employment report, released on Friday, says private-sector employment hit 2,614,800 last month. This breaks the state's previous peak employment record of 2,612,600, which was set in March 2000.
Another way to look at the numbers: The state has added 291,600 private-sector jobs since July 2009, which marked the low point of employment in the state.
Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Steven Braun visited the Southern Indiana Career and Technical Center on Lynch Road to discuss the report with students and reporters.
Braun said both employer activities and job-seeker behaviors drove the state's employment growth.
For one thing, Braun said, employers are adding more jobs because they are encouraged by what he called Indiana's business-friendly atmosphere.
"People understand that this is a good business climate," he said.
And as more jobs become available, some Hoosiers who had previously quit looking for jobs are deciding to get back into the game. Over the past several years, Braun said, almost 80,000 people have re-entered the workforce.
The report came as no surprise to Jim Niehaus, who teaches precision machine technology at the Career and Technical Center.
Niehaus said local employers are clamoring for students to fill internships and for graduates to fill permanent jobs, especially in precision machining, welding, industrial maintenance and industrial electrician.
"It's unprecedented times, it really is. It's crazy," Niehaus said.
Indiana's unemployment rate in July was 4.7 percent, down from 5.8 percent in July 2014. The U.S. unemployment rate last month was 5.3 percent, down from 6.2 percent a year ago.
With the combination of low unemployment and job growth, Braun said, the task now is to find enough skilled workers to fill available jobs.
"The news today is great news, but it also presents us with some incredible challenges," he told the students.