Local jobless numbers like deja vu all over again

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

If old Mark Twain were around, he'd give the current Indiana unemployment figures a look and laugh.

For Twain -- popular purveyor of the legendary "lies, damned lies and statistics" logic in describing the persuasive power of numbers -- would be all over the significance of those November jobless rankings.

In the new state unemployment numbers released this week by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Indiana's overall unemployment rate for November is 4.5 percent with more than half of the 92 Hoosier counties (56 in fact), coming in at or below that figure.

The Putnam County figure for November is 4.6 percent, tying for 57th place in the latest standings.

If those numbers seem familiar, they should be because they have been quite similar the past couple of months.

In fact, one year ago, in the rankings for November 2014, Putnam County was also tied for 57th but with a considerably worse unemployment figure of 5.8 percent.

And November 2015 really wasn't much different than October or September. For October, Putnam County, at 4.3 percent, was 53rd overall for the second straight month. Nonetheless Putnam posted the best October numbers within the eight-county west-central Indiana area.

Again this month, the Putnam mark is better than the other west-central Indiana counties of Clay (4.9), Parke (5.3), Owen (5.3) Vigo (5.6), Sullivan (6.1), Greene (6.1) and Vermillion (6.6).

With the exception of Clay, the other west-central counties all find themselves mired in the state's bottom 20 for October, including Vermillion with the state's worst unemployment rate for the third straight month. Meanwhile, Greene and Sullivan sit at No. 4 in that dubious ranking.

Among counties contiguous to Putnam on the east and north, Hendricks again ranks among Indiana's best with a 3.6 percent jobless rate, good for fifth best in the state. Montgomery County was tied for 19th at 3.9 percent in the latest figures, while Morgan, at 4.3, was tied for 45th.

The top 10 Hoosier jobless rates by county for November are Hamilton (3.3), Dubois (3.3), Bartholomew (3.4), Adams (3.5), Hendricks, LaGrange, Boone and Decatur, all tied for fifth at 3.6, Gibson (3.7) and Wells, Warrick, Tipton, Steuben, Posey, Johnson, Jackson, Elkhart and Daviess (all 3.8) rounding out the top 10.

On the opposite end of the uemployment spectrum, the state's bottom 10 was again topped by Vermillion County (6.6), followed by Lake (6.2), Fayette, Greene and Sullivan tied for third worst at 6.1, Blackford and Fountain tied for sixth at 5.8 percent, followed by LaPorte and Lawrence at 5.7 and Vigo, Crawford, Orange and Starke, all at 5.6, tied for 10th place.

Meanwhile, Indiana's unemployment rate continued to be below the national rate in November. The latest monthly report puts joblessness at 4.5 percent in November, up from 4.2 percent in October.

Indiana's unemployment rate fell just below the national rate of 4.8 percent in November.

The state added 3,400 private sector jobs in November with the biggest gain in Construction and Trade, Transportation and Utilities sectors.

"Unemployment in the Hoosier State continues to be at its lowest levels in more than a decade," Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development Steven J. Braun said. "Meanwhile, Indiana continues to lead the Midwest in labor force growth by a significant amount."

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