INDIANAPOLIS — If there’s one consistent about the August unemployment report for Northeast Indiana it’s that it is inconsistent.
Some of the six counties covered by KPC Media Group in the far northeast corner of the state saw unemployment decline. Others remained about the same as July and yet others saw increases, some quite markedly so.
Allen and Whitley counties — both part of the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Statistical Area — saw significant increases in August.
Allen County increased to 5.0% in August, up from 4.1 in July. Allen County’s number of unemployed jumped from 7,663 in July to 9,338 in August while the labor force and number of people employed both declined.
Whitley County increased to 4.0% in August from 2.9% in July. The county saw its number of people unemployed jump from 498 to 688 in one month. However, the county is still well below the August 2020 unemployment rate of 5.0% when there were 869 people out of work and the economy was just starting to recover from pandemic shutdowns.
“Some of the decline in people working in August is an expected effect of students returning to school or other summer employment concluding, especially with K-12 schools that start in mid-August or earlier,” said Rachel Blakeman, director of Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Community Research Institute. “Curiously I’m optimistic to see the bump in the number of people actively seeking employment at this point, largely because of the sheer number of open jobs right now. Unemployed workers are indicating they would like a job, so it’s now a matter of whether their skills and expectations for pay and benefits align with what is available right now. September’s numbers will help us know if people are finding work.”
Elsewhere in the region, DeKalb County saw the largest decline in August, dropping to 3.1% from 3.4% in July. DeKalb County saw slight declines in the labor force and number employed, and the number unemployed was a significant enough of of a drop to improve the unemployment rate.
Both Noble and Steuben counties saw their unemployment rates drop by a tenth of a percentage point, from 3.8% in July to 3.7% in August in Noble County and 2.9% to 2.8% in Steuben County. Both counties experienced slight declines in the labor force, number employed and unemployed.
LaGrange County experienced a slight increase in its unemployment rate, going from 2.4% in July to 2.5% in August. The number unemployed remained the same at 482 people but declines in the labor force and number employed were significant enough to create the increase.
For the second straight month, LaGrange County was tied for second lowest unemployment rate in Indiana.
Indiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 4.1% in August.
Rick Farrant, communications director with Northeast Indiana Job Works, said now is a great time for people to look for work.
“It continues to be a jobseeker’s market in Northeast Indiana,” Farrant said. “Now is the time to take advantage of the incentives many employers are offering to prospective employees. It is also a good time to consider training opportunities that are being offered through a variety of programs.”