By ERIC BERNSEE
The jobless picture has literally taken three steps forward and one step back for Putnam County.
After three months of making a few small steps toward respectability, the local unemployment rate took a baby step backward for June.
After posting an 8.8 percent jobless rate for May (a 3.5 percent improvement since February's 12.3 bottoming out), June wasn't as kind to Putnam County.
According to figures released Friday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the Putnam County unemployment figure for June is 9.5 percent, seven-tenths of a percentage point worse than last month.
That rate is good for a tie for 71st best (or 20th worst) among Indiana's 92 counties. That also represents a drop from May's ranking, when Putnam County had inched its way up to a more respectable 58th.
Following the startling 12.3 percent jobless figure in February, Putnam County unemployment numbers had inched their way forward at 11.2 for March, 9.5 in April and 8.8 for May.
But for June, Putnam uncharacteristically lagged behind all six contiguous counties.
Among neighboring areas, Hendricks continues to rank the best (13th overall) at 7.0 percent for June. Morgan County was at 7.8, good for 30th overall, while Montgomery and Owen counties, both at 8.5 percent for June, were tied for 51st.
Parke County slipped to 57th at 8.8 percent, while Clay was tied for 49th best at 8.5 percent.
The state's best jobless rate belongs to Dubois County at 5.5 percent, while the worst unemployment figure was again posted by Fayette County at 12.1 percent for June.
Indiana's preliminary seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is 8.3 percent for June. Overall, the U.S. rate rose to 9.2 percent for the month.
For the fifth straight month, Indiana's unemployment remains below neighboring states and the national average of 9.2 percent
"This month, the nation and most of our neighboring states saw an increase in the unemployment rate," said Mark W. Everson, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development. "While this month's news nationally and here in the state is discouraging, it is important to note that over the past year Indiana has seen a 2 percent drop in the unemployment rate from 10.3 percent to 8.3 percent."
Not as encouraging, however, private sector employment decreased by 6,200 Hoosiers in June. DWD also revised the preliminary estimate of May's private sector employment down 1,900.
Some sectors showed growth in June, however. Those included private education and health services and financial activities sectors.
There were losses in leisure and hospitality jobs, along with professional and business services and manufacturing.