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Lake, LaPorte counties have two of the three highest jobless rates in state
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Lake, LaPorte counties have two of the three highest jobless rates in state

Unemployment falls across Northwest Indiana

Unemployment fell in Northwest Indiana last month.

Unemployment was mixed in Northwest Indiana in February, with Lake and LaPorte counties having two of the three highest jobless rates in the Hoosier state.

Lake County ranked second in joblessness statewide, LaPorte County third, and Porter County ranked 17th.

Cities in north Lake County were especially hard-hit by the ongoing economic fallout of COVID-19. More than a tenth of the population was unemployed in Gary and East Chicago in February, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. 

The jobless rate peaked at a staggering 19.4% in Northwest Indiana last April but fell for much of the year after that peak. The jobless rate stayed steady at 6.7% in February across the Gary metropolitan area, which encompasses Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties. The unemployment rate in the Gary metro area was just 5% in February a year prior.

In February, Lake County had the Hoosier state's second-highest jobless rate statewide at 7.4%, down from 7.5% in January and up significantly from 5.3% in February 2020. LaPorte County ranked third highest out of Indiana's 92 counties at 6.9% unemployment in February, which was up from 6.8% in January and up significantly from 4.8% at the same time a year ago, according to the Department of Workforce Development.

Porter County's unemployment rose to 5.3% in February, up from 5% in January and up from 4.2% at the same point a year earlier. 

Overall, Indiana's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stayed steady at 4.7% in February, up from 3.4% at the same time the previous year, while the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 6.6%, down from 6.8%, the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment climbed as high as 12% in Northwest Indiana during the depths of the Great Recession more than a decade ago, but had been significantly higher in Northwest Indiana during the pandemic, following stay-at-home orders meant to stop the spread of a virus that has killed more than 560,000 Americans thus far. More than one out of 10 Region residents on average were out of work for months.

In February, joblessness rose in Crown Point, Hobart, Portage, and Schererville. It was unchanged in Valparaiso. Unemployment fell in East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, Merrillvile and Michigan City. In the Calumet Region, Gary had the highest jobless rate of 12.6%, East Chicago the second-highest of 11.5%, Merrillville the third-highest of 8.2%, and Michigan City the fourth highest of 8%. 

Valparaiso had the lowest jobless rate in the Region at 4.7%, followed by Schererville at 5% and Crown Point at 5.4%.

 

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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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