Local jobless rate slips for second straight month

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Apparently life doesn’t begin at 40 after all.

After posting a December unemployment figure of 3.0 percent -- good for 40th best overall in Indiana -- the Putnam County jobless rate, instead of continuing its march forward, slipped back to 3.7 percent for a tie for 46th (or the halfway mark) in January and has fallen even lower into a tie for 55th among Indiana’s 92 counties at 4.0 percent for February.

After languishing in the bottom half of the Indiana unemployment rankings for much of the past two years, the Putnam County jobless rate had steadily rebounded during the fall and winter, reaching a high-water mark of 35th best (3.5 percent) for September and a 3.0 percent rate for December.

The latest Putnam unemployment figure of 4.0 percent, meanwhile, is good enough for a tie with Washington, Huntington, Henry and Scott counties for 55th best, according to the numbers released this week by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

For February, the Putnam County figure still remains better than all other contiguous counties with the exception of Hendricks and Montgomery, both of which landed in the top 20. Hendricks County posted a 3.0 percent mark to tie for 13th best overall, while Montgomery earned in a tie for 20th best overall with a 3.2 percent jobless mark for the month.

Among the other contiguous counties, Clay County, at 4.2 percent, was in a tie for the 66th spot for February, while Parke County, at 4.5 percent, was tied for the state’s 19th worst and Owen County landed in the bottom 10, tied with Greene and Jasper for eighth worst among the 92 counties at 5.1 percent.

Putnam County did post the best February numbers of all west-central Indiana counties, topping Vigo (4.8 percent), Greene (5.1), Sullivan (5.3) and state-worst Vermillion (6.6) as well as the aforementioned Clay, Parke and Owen.

Meanwhile, the top 10 Hoosier jobless rates for February belong to the counties of LaGrange and Elkhart, 2.5; Dubois, 2.6; Hamilton, 2.7; Steuben, Kosciusko and Adams, 2.8; and Boone, Bartholomew, Posey, Martin, Gibson and DeKalb tied for 10th at 2.9 percent.

At the opposite end of the Hoosier unemployment spectrum, counties posting the worst Indiana jobless rates for February were Vermillion, 6.6 percent; Newton, 5.7; Lake, 5.6; Crawford, 5.4; Sullivan, LaPorte and Starke, 5.3 percent; and Greene, Jasper and Owen, 5.1.

Indiana’s unemployment rate has edged lower to 3.2 percent in February, continuing a decline in the state that was seen starting in November.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development said the state’s unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a percentage point from the January rate. The state’s unemployment rate remained below the national rate of 4.1 percent.

With the exception of October 2014, when it was equal to the national rate, the state’s unemployment rate has been below the U.S. rate for more than four years.

Indiana’s labor force had a net increase of nearly 2,500 over the previous month, which was a result of about 2,250 unemployed residents no longer seeking employment and a more than 4,700 increase in residents employed. The state’s total labor force is 3.3 million.

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