Putnam jobless rate has ups and downs at 3.8%

Friday, November 25, 2016

Ah, statistics. They apparently can illustrate both better and worse figures at the same time.

Witness the latest Putnam County jobless numbers.

While improving its jobless rate to 3.8 percent for October, Putnam County nonetheless slipped backward in the state unemployment rankings in the latest report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

After two successive months finding its unemployment number ranked 43rd among the 92 Indiana counties, Putnam County finished October in a tie for the 47th spot with Knox, Ripley and Warrick counties, falling in the bottom half of the rankings in the process.

Indiana’s jobless rate overall was 3.9 percent for October.

A jobless figure below 4 percent essentially represents the chronically unemployed, experts believe.

And just last Monday, Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center Director Kristin Clary told 4th District U.S. Congressman Todd Rokita during his Greencastle visit, “We have the jobs, not necessarily the people.”

She said Greencastle industries could collectively take 600 people tomorrow and put them to work locally. However, many of the local jobless have one or more issues involving transportation, child care or an inability to pass the required drug test to secure a fulltime job.

“We see a direct impact on employment because of those issues,” Clary confided.

So much, in fact, that some local industries are now busing in workers from areas like Indianapolis to fill their immediate needs.

Nonetheless, the 3.8 percent local jobless rate represents a significant improvement as earlier this year Putnam County had posted unemployment figures of 5.0 percent for January, 5.6 percent for February, 5.7 for March, 5.0 for April and 4.7 for June.

Meanwhile, once again this month, the Putnam numbers are better than all other west-central Indiana counties of Clay (4.0), Owen (4.3), Parke (4.5), Vigo (4.5), Sullivan (4.7), Vermillion (5.0) and Greene (5.4).

And with the exception of Owen (22nd worst) and Clay (33rd worst), the other west-central counties all find themselves loitering in the state’s bottom 15 for October. That includes Greene, which posted the state’s worst unemployment figure of 5.4 percent.

Among counties contiguous to Putnam’s north and east, Hendricks again ranks among Indiana’s best with a 3.2 percent jobless rate, good for a tie for 12th best in the state. Meanwhile, Montgomery and Morgan were tied for 25th best at 3.5.

The top 10 Hoosier jobless rates by county for October are, in order: Dubois (2.8), Bartholomew (2.9), Wells, Hamilton, Daviess and Adams (3.0), followed by a five-way tie for seventh among LaGrange, Gibson, Decatur, Brown and Boone counties at 3.1.

On the opposite end of the unemployment spectrum, the state’s bottom 10 was again topped by Greene and Lake (5.4 percent), followed by Fayette (5.1), Newton and Vermillion (5.0), LaPorte (4.9), Crawford and Fountain (4.8) and Lawrence and Sullivan (4.7).

Meanwhile, Parke County had the 13th worst jobless figure for the month at 4.5 percent.

Indiana’s labor-force participation rate — the percentage of the state population either employed or actively seeking work — was at 65 percent in October, remaining well above the national rate of 62.8 percent, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development noted.

Among neighboring states, Michigan trailed Indiana with an October unemployment mark of 4.7 percent, followed by Ohio (4.9), Kentucky (5.1) and Illinois (5.6).

Nationally the unemployment rate for October was at 4.9 percent.

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