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Unemployment plunges across Northwest Indiana
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Unemployment plunges across Northwest Indiana

Unemployment plunges across Northwest Indiana

Job applications and information for the Gap Factory Store sit on a table during a job fair at Dolphin Mall in Miami are shown in this file photo. Unemployment fell almost everywhere in Northwest Indiana last month.

Unemployment fell across Northwest Indiana in June, though the Region still had some of the highest jobless rates in the state.

Lake County ranked second in joblessness statewide. LaPorte County was third, and Porter County eleventh.

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, 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 0.4% to 7% in June 2021 across the Gary metropolitan area, which encompasses Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties. The unemployment rate in the Gary metro area was 7.4% the previous month and 13.9% in June 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 June, Lake County had the Hoosier State's second-highest jobless rate at 7.9%, down from 8.4% from the previous month, and down significantly from 14.9% 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, has the state's highest jobless rate of 9.4%, eclipsing Lake County for the first time in months.

LaPorte County ranked third highest of Indiana's 92 counties at 6.2% unemployment in June, which was down from 6.3% in May, and down significantly from 14.5% at the same time a year ago, according to the Department of Workforce Development.

Porter County's unemployment declined to 5.2% in June, down from 5.4% in May, and down from 12.4% 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 ticked up to 4.1% in June, up from 4% in May but down from 10.1% at the same time the previous year. The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 5.9%, up from 5.8% the previous month and down from 11.1% 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 625,000 Americans. More than one out of 10 Region residents on average were out of work for months.

In June, joblessness fell in every Northwest Indiana city and town except Schererville, where it stayed steady at 5.2%.

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 4.7%, followed by Crown Point at 4.8% and Schererville at 5.2%.

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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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