Unemployment plummeted in Northwest Indiana last month, and the state's jobless rate dipped as well.
The jobless rate in the Gary Metropolitan Statistical Area – Lake, Porter, Jasper and Newton counties – declined to 7.2 percent in April, down from 8 percent in March, and 8.5 percent in April 2013. Unemployment in the Michigan City metro area, which encompasses all of LaPorte County, dropped to 7.3 percent in April, as compared to 8.6 percent a month earlier and 9.5 percent a year ago.
Unemployment fell by at least 0.4 percent in every major Northwest Indiana city and town except for Gary, where it remained unchanged, and East Chicago, where it rose slightly. The steepest drop was in Valparaiso, where it plunged 1.1 percentage points to 5.4 percent.
Gary, East Chicago and Michigan City remain the only three cities in Indiana that still suffer from double-digit unemployment. Joblessness in Hobart fell to 9.2 percent last month, dipping below 10 percent for the first time since September 2012.
Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 0.2 percent to 5.7 percent in April, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The national rate was 6.3 percent.
Last month, the unemployment rate in Illinois decreased by 0.5 percent to 7.9 percent. Illinois had the 47th-highest unemployment rate in the country, trailing only Nevada at 8 percent and Rhode Island at 8.3 percent.
Indiana fell near the middle of the pack, tying Maine, Ohio, and Pennsylvania for the 20th-lowest unemployment rate nationally. Regionally, Indiana had the 7th-highest jobless rate out of the 12 U.S. Census-designated Midwestern states, lagging far behind North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Kansas. Illinois remained dead-last in the Midwest.
"April's job numbers maintained the positive economic trend for 2014 in the Hoosier State," said Scott Sanders, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. "Indiana's unemployment rate continues to drop because more Hoosiers are going back to work as our labor force continues to grow, which is not the case with some of our neighboring states or the national trend as a whole."
Unemployment in Indiana has decreased by 2.1 percent over the last year. The state has added more than 220,000 private sector jobs, including 75,200 manufacturing jobs, since the the depth of the downturn in July 2009.
In April, the state gained 4,400 private sector jobs, and the state's workforce increased by 11,700.