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Unemployment soars across Northwest Indiana

People tour the booths at The Times Diversity Business Symposium and Job Fair at Avalon Manor in Hobart in 2017. Joblessness rose throughout the Region in January.

Unemployment soared throughout Northwest Indiana in January, the most recent month for which data is available.

Joblessness rose to 5.4 percent in January, up from 4.8 percent the previous month, across the Gary metropolitan area, which encompasses Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties. The unemployment rate in the Gary metro was 5 percent a year prior, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The figures are not adjusted for seasonal variations, such as a decline in jobs at construction sites, parks, beaches, and marinas when it gets colder.

In January, Lake County had the state's third-highest jobless rate at 5.8 percent, up from 5.1 percent in December and 5.3 percent in January 2017. Lake County's jobless rate remained higher than the unemployment rates in the state, neighboring Illinois, the Chicago area as a whole and the country.

LaPorte County ranked sixth out of Indiana's 92 counties at 5.5 percent unemployment in January, which was up from 4.7 percent in December. Joblessness in the Michigan City-LaPorte metro area, which is just LaPorte County, also rose by 0.8 percentage points month-over-month.

Porter County's unemployment rose 4.6 percent in January, which was up from 3.9 percent in December and the 23rd highest jobless rate statewide.

Overall, Indiana's unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent in January, down from 3.6 in December. The national unemployment rate was 4 percent in January, up from 3.9 percent the previous month.

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

Joblessness rose in December in Crown Point, East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, Hobart, Merrillville, Michigan City, Portage, Schererville, and Valparaiso, rising by as much as 1.2 percent in East Chicago and 0.9 percent in Hobart and Portage. Schererville posted the smallest increase month-over-month, of just 0.3 percent.

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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.