Unemployment rises across much of Northwest Indiana

Hammond Morton senior Edgar Gonzalez, from left, E.C. Central junior Areli Enriquez and E.C. Central senior Guillermo Dominguez talk to R.D. Parpart, of ArcelorMittal, about the company's Steelworker of the Future program at The Foundations of East Chicago's scholarship, college and career resources fair in January. Joblessness in Northwest Indiana rose slightly last month.

Unemployment rose across much of Northwest Indiana in May, staying flat in some areas but rising as much as 0.4 percentage points in Merrillville and Schererville.

Joblessness ticked up last month to 4.2 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 up from 4.1 percent in April.

In May, Lake County had the state's third-highest jobless rate of 4.5 percent, up from 4.4 percent the previous month and 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 eighth out of Indiana's 92 counties at 3.9 percent, which was unchanged from April. Unemployment in the Michigan City-LaPorte metro area, which is just LaPorte County, stayed steady at 3.9 percent in May, which is also the same as it was at the same time last year.

Porter County's unemployment rose to 3.6 percent, 20th highest in the state and up from 3.4 percent the month prior.

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The jobless rate in the Gary metro also was the same as last year.

Overall, Indiana's unemployment rate stayed steady at 3.2 percent in May, while Illinois' jobless rate fell to 4.3 percent in May, down from 4.4 percent in April, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The national unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in May, and joblessness stood at 3.3 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 rose in every city and town in Northwest Indiana last month, except in Crown Point and East Chicago, where it was unchanged.

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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.