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The Journal Gazette

Metro jobless rate falls to 6.6%

Maybe we’re onto something.

The Fort Wayne metropolitan statistical area saw its jobless rate dip to 6.6 percent last month from 7 percent in September, based on figures released Friday from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Job market analysts might even concede a trend after three consecutive months of unemployment decreases.

The number of people without jobs declined in August, September and October. Metro Fort Wayne consists of Allen, Wells and Whitley counties.

“I’d say this is positive news, and it’s notable because we’ve seen consecutive months of declines and a year-over-year decline in unemployment,” said Ellen Cutter, director of the Community Research Institute at IPFW.

The jobless rate in October 2012 was 7.6 percent.

“We’ve seen consistent declines,” Cutter said, adding that she remains concerned about people who have dropped out of the job market due to discouragement or other factors.

“We have to figure out a way to get those workers re-engaged,” Cutter said. “We don’t want to forget that segment of labor.”

Metro Fort Wayne had a labor force of more than 205,500 in October, compared with the same period a year ago, when 204,000 people made up the group. There were also more people employed compared with a year ago October – 192,063, compared with 188,885.

Statewide, the picture also looked brighter as unemployment declined to 7.5 percent in October, compared with 7.8 percent in September.

Indiana’s employment figures prompted Gov. Mike Pence to issue a statement Friday:

“This is the first time since November 2008 that our unemployment rate has been below 8 percent, and it is a testament to the resilience of the hard-working people of Indiana, the businesses of our state and the policies that we have been embracing during these difficult times,” he said.

Indiana is in the midst of the largest three-month jobless drop in more than 20 years, officials said.

“Indiana’s unemployment rate is more than 1 percentage point below where it was in January, which is definitely significant,” said Scott B. Sanders, commissioner of Workforce Development.

“The steady private-sector job growth the Hoosier state has been experiencing for some time now is finally beginning to be reflected in the unemployment rate, which many businesses and individuals rely on to make important economic decisions.”

Throughout the region, there were no wild swings in unemployment in October. Ohio had the four-state area’s lowest jobless rate, 7.5 percent, up from 7.4 percent in September. Unemployment also rose in Kentucky to 8.4 percent in October, against 8.3 percent a month earlier; Illinois decreased to 8.9 percent from 9.1 percent in September; and Michigan was unchanged in October at 9 percent.

Jobless figures in the four Ohio counties bordering northeast Indiana – Defiance, Paulding, Van Wert and Williams – will be released Tuesday.