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Job growth rising in region

Unemployment figures inch ahead

Cutter
The Journal Gazette

Job growth is heating up in northeast Indiana’s nine counties, according to data the Indiana Department of Workforce Development released Friday.

Of the 6,945 jobs added to the region’s workforce in the past 12 months, 33 percent were added last month alone. Ellen Cutter, director of IPFW’s Community Research Institute, said it’s significant that 2,266 more people were working last month in northeast Indiana.

Meanwhile, jobless numbers increased slightly in those same counties, with increases ranging from 0.1 percentage point to 0.3 percentage point.

Cutter explained that various factors could account for increases in both the number of people working and the number who are unemployed. Variables include discouraged workers re-entering the workforce, those not working by choice re-entering the workforce and people moving into those counties.

But there’s no way, she said, to know how many people fell into each category.

Indiana’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate inched downward in February to 6.1 percent, more than a half-percentage point lower than the national rate of 6.7 percent, officials announced Friday.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in January.

Fort Wayne’s metropolitan statistical area saw its jobless rate rise last month from 6 percent to 6.2 percent. The local MSA comprises Allen, Wells and Whitley counties.

Joe Frank, spokesman for the Department of Workforce Development, noted that the county and MSA numbers aren’t seasonally adjusted. If seasonal workers, including teachers and landscapers, were subtracted from those pools, the sample size would be too small to generate reliable data, he said.

The best benchmark for change, Frank said, is to compare unemployment rate within each county to the previous year’s rate – thus removing seasonal volatility. Using that measure, Fort Wayne’s MSA saw the jobless rate fall by a full 2 percentage points. The February 2013 rate was 8.2 percent.

Comparing one-year changes, each of the nine northeast Indiana counties saw significant improvement, ranging from a 2.5 percentage point drop in Noble and Whitley to a 1.7 percentage point drop in Kosciusko and Wells.

Over the past year, the state unemployment rate fell by 1.8 percentage points, the fourth largest decline in the U.S., Indiana officials said.

sslater@jg.net

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