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Unemployment plummets all across Northwest Indiana
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Unemployment plummets all across Northwest Indiana

Unemployment falls all across Northwest Indiana

Unemployment fell in Northwest Indiana last month.

Unemployment plunged dramatically across Northwest Indiana in September, though the Region still had some of the highest jobless rates in the state.

Lake County ranked second in joblessness statewide. LaPorte County was fifth, and Porter County 21st.

Cities in north Lake County have been especially hard hit by the continuing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 10% of the workforce remained unemployed in Gary, 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 0.9 percentage points to 5% in September 2021 across the Gary metropolitan area, which encompasses Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties. The unemployment rate in the Gary metro area was 5.9% the previous month, 7% two months ago and 8.3% in September 2020, not long after lockdowns were imposed at the onset of the pandemic.

In September, Lake County had the Hoosier State's highest jobless rate at 5.7%, down from 6.7% from the previous month, and down significantly from 9.2% during the depth of the coronavirus downturn in September 2020. Howard County, where the similarly blue-collar manufacturing town of Kokomo is located, had the highest jobless rate at 6.7%.

LaPorte County ranked fifth highest of Indiana's 92 counties at 4.6% unemployment in September, which was down from 5.4% in August, and down significantly from 8% at the same time a year ago, according to the Department of Workforce Development.

Porter County's unemployment declined to 3.6% in September, down from 4.2% in August, and down from 6.5% at the same point a year earlier.

Overall, Indiana's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 4% in September, down from 4.1% the previous month and 6.3% at the same time the previous year. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.8%, down from 5.2% the previous month and down from 7.7% 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 755,000 Americans and nearly 5 million people around the globe. More than one out of 10 Region residents on average were out of work for months.

In September, joblessness fell across in Northwest Indiana, dropping by 2.3 percentage points in East Chicago, 1.7 percentage points in Hobart, and and 1.2 percentage points in Gary and Portage.

In the Calumet Region, Gary had the highest jobless rate of 12.2%, East Chicago the second highest at 8.7%, Merrillville the third highest at 7.5% and Hammond the fourth highest at 6.8%.

Valparaiso had the lowest jobless rate in the Region at 3.1%, followed by Crown Point at 3.2% and Schererville at 3.7%.

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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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