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Unemployment dips in Northwest Indiana
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Unemployment dips in Northwest Indiana

Unemployment falls across Northwest Indiana

Unemployment fell in Northwest Indiana last month.

Unemployment dipped across much of Northwest Indiana in July, though the Region still had some of the highest jobless rates in the state.

Lake County ranked first in joblessness statewide. LaPorte County was third, and Porter County 10th.

Cities in north Lake County were especially hard hit by the continuing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 10% of the population was unemployed in Gary and East Chicago, while Hammond was just a hair short of double digits, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The jobless rate peaked at nearly 20% in Northwest Indiana in April 2020, but largely has been declining since then. The jobless rate fell 0.1% to 6.9% in July 2021 across the Gary metropolitan area, which encompasses Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties. The unemployment rate in the Gary metro area was 7% the previous month and 12.2% in July 2020, not long after lockdowns were imposed at the onset of the pandemic.

Aaron Kujawa, head chef at Lincoln Flats in downtown Valparaiso, talked about reopening the dining areas of Lincoln Flats on Tuesday. Full story here.

In July, Lake County had the Hoosier State's highest jobless rate at 8%, up from 7.9% from the previous month, and down significantly from 13.1% during the depth of the coronavirus downturn in June 2020. Howard County, where the similarly blue-collar manufacturing town of Kokomo is located in north-central Indiana, slipped back to second place with a 7.8% jobless rate.

LaPorte County ranked third highest of Indiana's 92 counties at 5.8% unemployment in July, which was down from 6.2% in June, and down significantly from 11.9% at the same time a year ago, according to the Department of Workforce Development.

Porter County's unemployment declined to 4.8% in July, down from 5.2% in June, and down from 10.7% at the same point a year earlier.

The twelfth installment of Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops features the Lake County Sheriff's Department's Aviation Unit, led by Lt. Randy Phillips. Video shot by Kale Wilk and produced by Nat Cardona. Interview by Anna Ortiz.

Overall, Indiana's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stayed steady at 4.1% in July, the same as in June but down from 8.9% at the same time the previous year. The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 5.7%, down from 6.1% the previous month and down from 10.5% at the same point a year earlier, 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 in the late 2000s, but it 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 645,000 Americans. More than one out of 10 Region residents on average were out of work for months.

In July, joblessness was mixed in Northwest Indiana. It rose in East Chicago, Gary, Hammond and Hobart and fell in Michigan City, Portage, Schererville and Valparaiso. The jobless rate was unchanged as compared to the previous month in Crown Point and Merrillville.

In the Calumet Region, Gary had the highest jobless rate of 15%, East Chicago the second highest at 12.8%, Merrillville the third highest at 9.8% and Hammond the fourth highest at 9.4%.

Valparaiso had the lowest jobless rate in the Region at 4%, followed by Crown Point at 4.7% and Schererville at 4.8%.

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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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