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Unemployment falls across NWI, but is higher than in neighboring Illinois

Unemployment falls across NWI, but is higher than in neighboring Illinois

Unemployment falls across NWI, but is higher than in neighboring Illinois

Second-year apprentice Olaf Hemdal, right, from the Sheet Metal Workers Local 20, helps Hobart High School senior Jasmine Willis assemble a tool tray made from sheet metal Tuesday at the Northwest Indiana Construction & Skilled Trades Day in November. Joblessness in the Gary metro stood at 4.7 percent in March. 

Unemployment plunged across Northwest Indiana in March, falling as much as 0.8 percentage points in some communities.

Joblessness dropped to 4.7 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 in the Gary metro is down from 5.3 percent in February.

Joblessness nonetheless remained relatively high in Northwest Indiana, as compared to the rest of the state.

In March, Lake County had the state's second-highest jobless rate of 5.1 percent, down from 5.6 percent the previous month but 0.5 percentage points higher than the unemployment rate in neighboring Illinois. Newton County was fourth highest out of Indiana's 92 counties with a jobless rate of 4.8 percent. Starke was fifth highest in Indiana with an employment rate of 4.7 percent, and LaPorte County ranked sixth at 4.6 percent, which was down from 5.3 percent in February. Porter County's unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent, 19th highest in the state and down from 4.5 percent in February.

Unemployment in the Michigan City-LaPorte metro area, which is just LaPorte County, declined to 4.6 percent in March, down from 5.2 percent in February. 

The jobless rate in the Gary metro was down 0.2 percentage points as compared to the same time a year ago, while it's fallen by 0.7 percentage points in the LaPorte-Michigan City metro over the past year.

Overall, Indiana's unemployment rate stayed steady 3.2 percent in March, while Illinois' jobless rate fell to 4.6 percent in March, down from 4.7 percent in February, 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 fell in every city and town in Northwest Indiana, declining by as much as 0.8 percentage points in Hobart and 0.6 percentage points in Michigan City and Portage.

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Business Reporter

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.

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