More Hoosiers are returning to work ahead of the Sept. 6 scheduled expiration of federal pandemic unemployment insurance benefits, according to July employment data from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD).

Indiana’s private employment increased month-over-month by 17,100 jobs and has recovered 96,600 jobs over the year to bring the state’s total private employment to 2.65 million jobs. Private employment slumped during the COVID-19 pandemic to 2.33 million jobs in April 2020 from a recent high of 2.75 million jobs in February 2020.

Industries showing the most job growth in July include manufacturing (+4,800); trade, transportation and utilities (+4,500); private educational and health services (+2,800); and professional and business services (+2,700).

Indiana’s manufacturing sector has added 30,700 jobs since July 2020, which ranks second-most in the nation. At nearly 540,000 jobs total, the manufacturing sector is at its highest level in Indiana since February 2020.

Indiana’s July unemployment rate stands unchanged from the previous month at 4.1%, and is lower than neighboring states Kentucky (4.4%); Michigan (4.8%); Ohio (5.4%); and Illinois (7.1%).

The state’s unemployment rate has decreased 12.8 percentage points since the high mark in April 2020, which represents the fifth-biggest drop in the U.S. The July U.S. unemployment rate is at 5.4%

Indiana’s labor force is at roughly 3.37 million and has increased 41,694 from the same time a year ago. The state’s labor force participation rate is at 63.2% and above the U.S. rate of 61.7%

Online job postings from employers around the state totaled more than 143,078 in mid-August, according to DWD. In northeast Indiana, the number of job postings was 16,169,