The Putnam County unemployment picture continues to more forward, albeit it inch by inch.
According to the latest jobless figures, released by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the Putnam County unemployment figure for May is 8.8 percent.
That is a 3.5 percent improvement since February, when the local figure bottomed out at 12.3 percent and dropped Putnam County into the bottom 10 of Indiana's 92 counties.
The May rate is good for 58th place, which although that is still the bottom third, represents a gradual course of improvement. After the 12.3 percent figure in February, the numbers were 11.2 for March and 9.5 for April.
Among neighboring counties, Hendricks continues to rank the best (12th overall) at 6.8 percent. Owen County was at 8.0 percent, good for 33rd overall, while Morgan, at 8.1 percent, ranked 36th for May.
Montgomery County dropped to 43rd at 8.3 percent, while Parke was tied for 49th best at 8.5 percent.
Clay County joined Putnam County in the bottom third at 9.2 (tied for 65th best overall) for May.
The state's best rate belongs to Daviess County at 5.4 percent, while the worst May unemployment figure was posted by Fayette County at 12.0 percent.
Indiana's preliminary seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate remained at 8.2 percent in May. The U.S. rate rose to 9.1 percent this month. Indiana continues to be below the national average and that of all neighboring states for the fourth month in a row.
Private sector employment increased by 1,700 in May.
"The steady improvement in the unemployment rate means the state is no longer eligible for a portion of the federally funded extended benefits," said Mark W. Everson, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development. "As a result, Hoosiers will be eligible for up to 93 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits instead of 99 weeks. This is still well above the maximum amount of benefits offered in any previous recession, the highest being 55 weeks in 1983."
Due to the state's three-month average unemployment rate falling below 8.5 percent, weeks 73-79 of unemployment benefits, also known as tier four, are no longer available. Only states with a three-month average unemployment rate above 8.5 percent are eligible.
Hoosiers currently receiving these benefits will be allowed to finish, but new claims will not be accepted beginning Sunday, July 10. Individuals who exhaust tier three after this date may apply for an additional 20 weeks of extended benefits.