Despite a series of positive signs on the local job front, Putnam County today still finds itself in the bottom half of the state's latest unemployment rankings.
In recent weeks and months, there has been mostly good news locally with expansions under way or planned at several local plants and Phoenix Closures about to begin manufacturing at the old Oxford Automotive (Greencastle Manufacturing) building.
In fact, at Tuesday's City Council meeting Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center Director Bill Dory, said that after a Banner Graphic story about Phoenix made the state wires, he recently received phone calls from other counties, asking essentially: "What are you folks doing over there in Putnam County?"
Dory advised the Council "employment is pretty much starting to come back."
Those remarks proved quite prophetic Friday as the latest jobless figures show Putnam County at 8.4 percent unemployment, a vast improvement from the double-digit jobless rates and bottom-10 appearances posted early in 2012.
The current rate is good enough for 59th place among Indiana's 92 counties.
It also marks an improvement over May 2011 when the local unemployment rate was at 8.8 percent.
Among neighboring counties, only Hendricks (at 6.3 percent for No. 11 overall) and Morgan (at 7.6 percent for 42nd overall) even rank in the top half of the state's counties.
Montgomery is at 8.0 percent for 52nd while Parke County tied for 67th overall with an 8.7 percent jobless figure.
Things are even worse for neighboring Clay County, which posted the 22nd worst jobless rate for May 2012 at 8.8 percent.
The state's best jobless rate belongs to Dubois County at 5.4 percent, followed by Hamilton at 5.5 percent, Daviess at 5.6, with Warren at 5.9 and Boone and Bartholomew counties at 6.0 percent.
Also in the top 10 for May are Wells at 6.1, Switzerland, Pulaski and Martin counties, all at 6.2 percent.
On the bottom for May is Fayette County at 10.6 percent, followed by Vermillion (10.4), Sullivan (10.0), Blackford, Lawrence and Wayne (9.8), Vigo (9.7), Starke (9.6), and Grant, LaPorte, Miami and Scott (9.5).
Overall, Indiana's unemployment rate remained steady at 7.9 percent, 0.3 percent below the national rate of 8.2 percent.
Indiana's jobless rate was better than all but Ohio (7.3) among adjoining states. Kentucky was at 8.2 percent. Michigan was at 8.5, while Illinois posted a 8.6 percent jobless rate.
Indiana again posted significant private sector job gains adding 7,700 new jobs in May. It marks the seventh consecutive month of job growth and the best December--to-May period in over a decade. The Hoosier state accounted for almost 10 percent of the total U.S. increase.
For 2012, Indiana's private sector gains (1.6 percent) have doubled that of the nation (0.8 percent). Since July 2009, the low point of employment in Indiana, private sector job growth in the Hoosier state has nearly doubled the national rate (6.1 percent versus 3.2 percent).
"Indiana continues to be a leader in job growth," said Scott B. Sanders, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development. "Since the beginning of the year, the state has added 38,700 total private sector jobs led by 12,200 in manufacturing."