Putnam County's jobless rate has escaped double-digit status for the first time in 2011 by falling for the third straight month, according to figures announced Friday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
The latest numbers, posted for April, peg the Putnam County unemployment rate at 9.5 percent, which is tied for 75th best (or 15th worst) in the state for the period.
That represents an improvement over the 11.2 percent for March and the 12.3 figure posted for February. The latest jobless rate also allows Putnam County to escape the bottom 10 for the first time in three months. The county had ranked eighth worst (or 83rd best) for March.
For April, Indiana's unemployment rate dipped to 8.2 percent. Unemployment dropped 0.3 percentage points from the previous month, now 0.8 percentage points below the national average of 9 percent.
Among neighboring counties, Hendricks continues to rank the best (15th overall) at 6.6 percent. Montgomery County was 31st at 7.7 percent, while Owen and Morgan tied for 38th at 7.9 percent and Parke was tied for 50th best at 8.5 percent.
Clay County joined Putnam County in escaping double digits, falling from 10.7 percent in March to 9.1 for April. That was tied with Vigo County for 66th overall.
The state's best rate belongs to Daviess County at 4.9 percent for April, while the worst unemployment figure was posted by Fayette County at 11.7 percent.
At 8.2 percent, Indiana again ranks below the unemployment rate of all its neighboring states for the third month in a row. Ohio was at 8.6 percent, followed by Illinois at 8.7. Kentucky and Michigan were still in double-digit unemployment at 10.0 and 10.2 respectively.
A year ago, Indiana's unemployment rate was 10.5 percent, above the national average.
"Indiana is 0.8 percent below the national rate for the first time since June 2003," DWD commissioner Mark Everson said.
The state's biggest job growth came in the private education and health services sectors, DWD said. Leisure and hospitality jobs were also on the uptick.
Meanwhile, positions in the professional and business services and manufacturing sectors were down for the period.