Despite a series of positive signs on the local job front, Putnam County today finds itself in the bottom 10 of the state's latest unemployment rankings.
In recent weeks and months, there has been good news locally with expansions under way or planned at Crown Equipment Corp. and F.B. Distro and the purchase of the old Oxford Automotive (Greencastle Manufacturing) building by Phoenix Closures.
None of the new jobs associated with those projects has yet materialized, however, allowing the bad news to prevail for at least another month.
A February 2012 jobless rate of 11.0 percent puts Putnam County in a tie with neighboring Owen County for the 10th worst unemployment figure among the state's 92 counties.
February appears to be a bad month for local unemployment numbers. The current double-digit deflation is the worst local rating since a 12.3 percent figure was logged in February 2011.
Things are even worse for neighboring Clay County, which posted the third worst jobless rate for February 2012 at 11.4 percent.
Among neighboring counties, only Hendricks (at 6.9 percent for No. 8 overall) and Montgomery (8.5 percent for 33rd) even rank in the top half of the state's counties.
Morgan, at 9.4 percent, is 49th overall, while Parke County tied for 73rd overall with a 10.5 percent jobless figure.
The state's best jobless rate again belongs to Hamilton County at 5.9 percent, followed by Daviess at 6.0, with Warren and Knox at 6.5 and Dubois at 6.6 rounding out the top five.
Also in the top 10 for February are Switzerland County at 6.7, Bartholomew at 6.8, Hendricks at 6.9, Monroe and Tippecanoe at 7.3.
On the bottom is Vermillion County at 12.5 percent, followed by Fayette (11.8), Clay and Lawrence (11.4), Starke (11.3), Blackford, Crawford, Jennings and Miami (11.1), and Owen and Putnam (11.0).
Overall, Indiana's unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percent to 8.4 percent in February.
The nation's unemployment rate held steady at 8.3 percent. In addition, new claims for unemployment insurance have dropped to just below 5,000, for the second week in a row, the first time this has happened in seven years.
Indiana's 8.4 percent jobless rate was below the February national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent. It was also better than all but Ohio (7.6) among adjoining states.
Kentucky was at 8.7 percent. Michigan was at 8.8, while Illinois posted a 9.1 percent jobless rate.
"The drop in the unemployment rate is good news, as is the decline in initial claims in unemployment insurance to levels not seen since 2005," said Mark W. Everson, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development.
"We also continue to see Hoosiers return to the workforce. Since February 2011, Indiana's labor force grew by 40,600 or 1.3 percent, outpacing the national growth and in sharp contrast to our neighboring states that saw their labor forces shrink."
Private sector jobs were unchanged this month, but Everson noted that Indiana has seen private sector jobs grow by 5 percent since the 2009 low point of employment in the state, compared to the national growth of 2.9 percent.
Additionally, due to the improvement in the unemployment rate, the state is no longer eligible for Extended Benefits (EB), the last 20 weeks of federally funded extended benefits.
According to federal law, Hoosiers will be unable to file for EB beginning Sunday, April 29. Approximately 10,000 Hoosiers are currently receiving extended benefits.