Employment in metro Fort Wayne appears headed in the wrong direction.
The region reported higher joblessness for the third consecutive month in January with 9.1 percent unemployment, up from a revised 8.2 percent in December, figures released Monday showed.
Statewide, the seasonally adjusted jobless rate rose to 8.6 percent in January, up from 8.3 percent in December, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
In October, metropolitan Fort Wayne – composed of Allen, Whitley and Wells counties – saw the unemployment rate drop below 7 percent for the first time in four years.
Now, economy watchers are starting to worry again.
Its been three months, so its definitely enough to have some concern, said John Stafford, director of the Community Research Institute at IPFW, referencing the uptick in unemployment. Theres been no specific event (like mass layoffs). Im not ready to come to a strong conclusion that the positive recovery is stalled, but were certainly beginning to see some reason for concern.
The same could be said for other parts of the country.
Unemployment rates increased in half of U.S. states in January from December, as employers nationwide added the fewest jobs in seven months. The Labor Department said Monday that jobless rates rose in 25 states.
They fell in only eight states and were unchanged in 17.
The metro Fort Wayne data comes less than two weeks before February jobless figures are expected to be released. At the start of a new year, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development typically reports unemployment figures later than usual because the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics is still tallying the previous years totals.
This causes a delay in local statistics, so the February jobless report is scheduled for release March 29.
Regionally for January, Kentuckys jobless rate shrank slightly to 7.9 percent in January, compared with 8 percent in December; Ohio increased to 7 percent from 6.7 percent; and Illinois rose to 9 percent from 8.6 percent. Michigan benefited from the auto industrys comeback, adding 26,500 jobs in January – the most of any state. But its unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.9 percent.
January unemployment figures in the four Ohio counties bordering northeast Indiana – Defiance, Paulding, Van Wert and Williams – was released last week. Williams County had the biggest jump at 8.8 percent in January, compared with 6.8 percent in December; Paulding increased to 8 percent from 6.2 percent; Defiance was 8.3 percent from 6.6 percent; and Van Wert was 8.5 percent from 7 percent.
As for Indiana, Gov. Mike Pence seemed to be trying to take the good with the bad.
While every Hoosier can be encouraged by the news that Indiana added 8,200 private-sector jobs in January, our states unemployment rate is too high, he said in a statement Monday. As I have seen in my travels across the state, despite the progress we have made, our economy is still struggling.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.