Unemployment climbed in Northwest Indiana in February, rising as much as 0.6 percentage points in some communities.
Joblessness rose to 5.3 percent across the Gary metropolitan area, which encompasses most of Northwest Indiana's population and territory, covering Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties. The unemployment rate is up from 5 percent in February, and 4.4 percent in January.
In February, Newton County had the state's second-highest jobless rate of 5.7 percent, while Lake County had the third-highest rate of 5.6 percent, up from 5.3 percent in January, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. LaPorte County was fifth highest out of Indiana's 92 counties with an unemployment rate of 5.3 percent in February, up from 4.2 percent the previous month. Porter County's unemployment rate rose to 4.5 percent, 20th highest in the state and up from 4.2 percent in January.
Unemployment in the Michigan City-LaPorte metro area, which is just LaPorte County, rose to 5.3 percent in February, up from 5.1 percent in January.
The numbers are not seasonally adjusted, and joblessness tends to spike in the winter when there are fewer seasonal jobs at construction sites, golf courses, beaches and other recreational facilities.
Despite the rise in February, the jobless rate in both the Gary metro and Michigan City metro fell 0.7 percentage points as compared to the same time a year ago.
Overall, Indiana's unemployment rate was 3.2 percent in February, down from 3.3 percent in January, while Illinois' jobless rate fell to 4.7 percent in February from 4.8 percent over the same period, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The national unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in February.
Unemployment climbed as high as 12 percent in Northwest Indiana during the depths of the Great Recession a decade ago.
Joblessness rose sharply last month in nearly every city and town in Northwest Indiana, increasing by as much as 0.6 percent in East Chicago and Gary. It was unchanged at 3.8 percent in Valparaiso.