Northwest Indiana now has lower unemployment than the country

Heather Schweitzer of Portage talked with employers at the 2016 Diversity Business Symposium Job Fair in June as she sought a bookkeeping position. Joblessness was just 3.9 percent in the Gary metro in May.

Tony V. Martin, The Times

Unemployment dropped across Northwest Indiana in May, and remains below 3 percent in some parts of Northwest Indiana.

Lake County had the state's third-highest jobless rate of 4 percent in May. LaPorte County was seventh-highest out of Indiana's 92 counties with an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Porter County's unemployment rate fell to 3.2 percent, down from 3.3 percent the previous month but still 16th highest in the state.

The seasonally unadjusted jobless rate in the Gary metro area — which is made up of Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties — dropped to 3.7 percent in May, down from 3.9 percent the previous month, according to Workforce Development.

In a rare occurrence, the Gary metro's jobless rate fell below the national average of 4.3 percent.

Unemployment in the Michigan City metro area, which is just LaPorte County, fell to 3.5 percent in May, down from 3.6 percent in April.

The jobless rate in the Gary metro was down 1.9 percent as compared to the same time a year ago, while unemployment has fallen 2.1 percent year-over-year in the Michigan City metro.

Indiana's unemployment rate was 3.2 percent in May, while Illinois' jobless rate was 4.6 percent, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Unemployment had been as high as 12 percent in Northwest Indiana during the depths of the Great Recession.

Joblessness fell in East Chicago, Hammond, Hobart, Merrillville and Portage last month. It rose slightly in Crown Point and Valparaiso, and was unchanged in Gary, Michigan City and Schererville.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.