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Unemployment plunges across Northwest Indiana

The gymnasium full of job seekers and employers at Hammond's 12th annual Job Fair that took place in 2015. Joblessness stood at 4.1 percent in the Gary metro last month.

Unemployment plummeted across Northwest Indiana in April, falling as much as 1.3 percentage points in East Chicago.

Joblessness dropped last month 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 is down from 4.7 percent in March and 5.3 percent in February.

In April, Lake County had the state's second-highest jobless rate of 4.4 percent, down from 5.1 percent the previous month but much higher than the rest of the state, neighboring Illinois, the rest of the Chicago area and the rest of the country. LaPorte County ranked fourth out of Indiana's 92 counties at 3.9 percent, which was down from 4.6 percent in March. Porter County's unemployment rate fell to 3.4 percent, 22nd highest in the state and down from 3.9 percent the month prior.

Unemployment in the Michigan City-LaPorte metro area, which is just LaPorte County, declined to 3.9 percent in April, down from 4.6 percent in March. 

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 remained steady in the LaPorte-Michigan City metro as compared to a year ago.

Overall, Indiana's unemployment rate stayed steady at 3.2 percent in April, while Illinois' jobless rate fell to 3.6 percent in April, down from 4.4 percent in March, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The national unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in April, and joblessness stood at 3.6 percent in the greater Chicago metropolitan area, which includes Northwest Indiana.

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 last month, declining by as much as 1.3 percentage points in East Chicago, 0.9 in Hammond, and 0.7 in Crown Point, Hobart, 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.