Local jobless rate escapes state's bottom 20 ranking

Saturday, August 18, 2012

One month after posting one of its worst state unemployment rankings ever, the Putnam County jobless picture has rebounded a bit and even escaped the bottom 20 for July 2012.

A 9.5 percent unemployment figure for July puts Putnam County in a tie with Owen County for the 72nd best jobless rate (or 21st worst, if you prefer that perspective).

While only a 0.3 percentage point improvement over the 9.8 percent posted for June, the new July figure marks an 11-spot rise in the rankings among Indiana's 92 counties.

Among other neighboring counties, Hendricks was best at 6.8 for eighth overall, while Morgan, at 7.6 percent for 32nd place, was the only other neighbor in the top half of the rankings.

Montgomery was at 8.8 percent for 52nd place in July, while Parke County tied for 67th overall with a 9.3 percent jobless figure.

Just outside the bottom 10 for July was Clay County at 9.9 percent, tied for 11th worst.

The state's best jobless rate belongs to Dubois County at 5.4 percent, followed by Hamilton at 5.9 percent, Boone at 6.1, Daviess and Bartholomew at 6.2, Warren and Martin at 6.5, Hendricks at 6.6 and Brown, Warrick and Pulaski all at 6.7.

On the bottom for July was Fayette County, last again at 11.3 percent, followed by Sullivan (11.1), Vermillion, Wayne and Vigo (all 10.5), Lawrence (10.4), Grant and Blackford (10.3), Miami (10.2) and Delaware (10.0).

For the ninth consecutive month Indiana added private sector jobs, with July's increase totaling 3,300. For 2012, the rate of job growth in the Hoosier state (1.7 percent) continues to exceed the U.S. average (1.0 percent).

Since July 2009, the low point of employment, Indiana has added more than 143,000 private sector jobs and has significantly outpaced the national rate of growth during this period, (6.2 percent versus 3.4 percent). Over the same period, manufacturing jobs in the Hoosier state have increased by more than 60,000, or by 14.1 percent.

Total nonfarm employment in Indiana also increased by 10,700 in July, with 7,600 of the jobs coming from the government sector, which had a decrease of 6,700 jobs in June.

Another anomaly was the federal government's analysis of Indiana's unemployment rate, which increased to 8.2 percent based on a 1,000 household survey showing more than 25,000 Hoosiers that worked in June were not working in July and no longer in the labor force.

"We have raised several questions with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics about discrepancies in June and July's labor force data," said Scott B. Sanders, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development. "The numbers seem to indicate nearly 46,000 Hoosiers went from gainfully employed in May to missing from the labor force in July, with no explanation."

Sanders also noted that while monthly data is volatile, the more reliable long-term numbers show Indiana is still significantly outperforming the U.S. average for private sector job growth (1.7 percent versus 1.0 percent), manufacturing growth (3.2 percent versus 1.5 percent) and nearly every other employment sector in 2012.

For July, Indiana (at 8.2 percent) fared better than all neighboring states except Ohio (7.2). Kentucky was at 8.3, Illinois at 8.9 and Michigan at 9.0 for July.

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