Unemployment plunges across Northwest Indiana, falling as much as 1 percent

Hundreds of people make the rounds at Hammond's 11th annual job fair at the Jean Shepherd Community Center in 2014. The unemployment rate in the Gary metro fell 0.7 percent last month.

Unemployment plunged steeply across Northwest Indiana in September, falling by as much as 1 percentage point in East Chicago and Michigan City.

Joblessness plummeted last month by 0.7 percentage points to 4.1 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 was 4.8 percent in August and 4.5 percent a year prior.

In September, Lake County had the state's second highest jobless rate of 4.5 percent, down from 5.1 percent in August and 4.9 percent in September 2017. Lake County's jobless rate remained higher than rates in the state, neighboring Illinois, the entire Chicago area and the country.

LaPorte County ranked 11th out of Indiana's 92 counties at 3.8 percent unemployment, which was down from 4.5 percent in August. Joblessness in the Michigan City-LaPorte metro area, which is just LaPorte County, fell by 0.7 percentage points month-over-month.

Porter County's unemployment dropped to 3.4 percent, down from 4.1 percent the month prior but 19th highest in the state.

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Overall, Indiana's unemployment rate stayed steady at 3.5 percent in September, and Illinois's jobless rate held fast at 4.1 percent, the lowest it's been since 1999. The national unemployment rate stood at 3.7 percent in September, down from 3.9 percent in August.

Unemployment climbed as high as 12 percent in Northwest Indiana during the depths of the Great Recession a decade ago.

Joblessness plunged in every city and town in Northwest Indiana in September, with percentage point declines of 0.8 in Gary and Hammond and 0.7 in Portage and Schererville. It dropped by at least 0.5 in every major Northwest Indiana community where the Indiana Department of Workforce Development tracks joblessness.

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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.