The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, July 20, 2021 1:00 am

Regional jobless rate up slightly

Workforce grew in June; Allen County highest in area

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne MSA's jobless rate ticked up to 4.4% in June, a 0.1 percentage point increase from the 4.3% reported for May, according to data released Monday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The increase might reflect new college and high school graduates entering the labor force. County-level data are not adjusted to even out such seasonal fluctuations.

The local metropolitan statistical area includes Allen, Wells and Whitley counties.

The MSA's labor force increased by 315 from the previous month to 218,240. That number includes everyone working or actively looking for work.

Allen County's unemployment rate of 4.6% was the highest for the region. Howard County's rate of 9.4% was the highest in the state. Adams and LaGrange counties tied at 2.8% for the lowest jobless rates in the state.

Economists generally consider any jobless rate less than 5% to reflect full employment because the labor force always includes some recent graduates and spouses looking for work after moving to a new city because of a mate's new job.

Indiana's total unemployment rate was 4.7% last month – or 4.1% after seasonal adjustments are made to the data. The U.S. jobless rate for June was 6.1% before seasonal adjustments and 5.9% after.

The state and national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increases for June mirrored the local MSA's 0.1 percentage point increase compared with May.

Rachel Blakeman, director of Purdue University Fort Wayne's Community Research Institute, said comparing this year's data with the same month last year remains problematic because the coronavirus-related shutdown affected so many industries' workers.

“I'm taking the slight bump in unemployed workers for last month as a positive sign indicating a confidence in finding employment, especially because there have been minimal layoff notices and the continued need for workers across industries,” she said Monday in a statement.

Rick Farrant, communications director for Northeast Indiana Works, said this market favors job hunters. Many employers, he said, have turned to Employer Training Grant funds to skill up existing workers and are offering incentives to new workers.

“Training opportunities also exist for people considering career changes or contemplating re-entering the workforce,” Farrant said in a statement.

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