INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly all counties in the KPC Media Group coverage area saw employment increase in June over May, but increases in the number of people unemployed helped increase unemployment rates minimally for those six counties.

LaGrange County continues to have the lowest unemployment rate not only in northeast Indiana but in the entire state, tying Adams County for the lowest at 2.8%. Steuben County was tied for ninth lowest with Wells at 3.3%.

June showed the marked difference a year makes from when the economy was starting to reopen after the height of the pandemic when unemployment rates across the region were in the 7-10% range.

“We are heading into a period where we can more reliably make comparisons to a year ago, as the public health restrictions started to lift but June 2021 doesn’t look anything like June 2020 from a labor market perspective,” said Rachel Blakeman, director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne. “I’m taking the slight bump in unemployed workers for last month as a positive sign indicating a confidence in finding employment, especially because there have been minimal layoff notices and the continued need for workers across industries.”

All counties saw increases in all categories used in measuring the unemployment rate, including labor force, employed and unemployed, with the exception of Whitley County, which had a slight dip in the number employed.

Northeast Indiana’s labor market remains strong as measured by June unemployment rates, released Monday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said a statement from PFW and Northeast Indiana Works. For Economic Growth Region 3, consisting of Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Grant, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties, all counties were at “full employment” with an unemployment rate below 5%. Adams and LaGrange counties were tied for the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 2.8%. Grant County had the highest unemployment rate regionally at 4.9%, slightly exceeding the state’s 4.7% rate. The 10 remaining counties in EGR 3 were below 4.7%.

LaGrange County saw its unemployment rate increase to 2.8% from 2.6% in May. DeKalb County increased to 3.7% from 3.4% in May. Noble County, with the highest rate in the four-county area, went up to 4.2% in June from 3.9% in May. Steuben County increased to 3.3% from 3.2% in May.

Whitley County increased to 3.5% from 3.3% in May while Allen County increased slightly to 4.6% from 4.5%.

Many more people entered the workforce across the region in June.

That was most evident in Steuben County where 440 people entered the workforce, up to 21,124, and the number employed grew by 405 people, to 20,435.

Next in line was LaGrange County, where the labor force grew to 20,669 people, up by 279, and employment grew by 229 to a total of 20,082.

All of the other counties saw employment totals grow in the double digits.

Allen County’s labor force grew by 225 people to 186,552 but there we only 14 more people employed in June compared to May. The June number of people employed was 177,937.

Noble County saw its labor force grow by 135 people, to 24,261 but the number employed, 23,234, was a growth of 51 people.

DeKalb County grew by 102 people to bring its labor force to 23,114 and the number employed grew to 22,268, an increase of 33 compared to May.

Whitley County’s labor force grew to 17,419, up 23, but its number employed decreased by 13 people.

The economy continues to favor people looking for work. As continues to be the practice, there are help wanted signs everywhere, including many signs popping up off premises for a variety of positions, from factories to mental health agencies.

“It is definitely a market favorable to job seekers, but many employers continue to struggle to find enough workers,” said Rick Farrant, director of communications for Northeast Indiana Works. “Employers are utilizing a number of incentives to attract workers and have also taken advantage of the latest round of Employer Training Grant funds to skill-up existing workers. Training opportunities also exist for people considering career changes or contemplating re-entering the workforce.”

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