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The Journal Gazette

Area jobless rate rises for June

Officials say those seeking seasonal work main reason

Unemployment in metro Fort Wayne last month rose to 5.6 percent from 5.2 percent in May, preliminary figures released Friday by Indiana Department of Workforce Development showed.

Fort Wayne’s metropolitan statistical area comprises Allen, Wells and Whitley counties.

Statewide, seasonally adjusted unemployment also increased, rising to 5.9 percent in June from 5.7 percent a month earlier.

“Indiana added more private sector jobs last month than any other June on record, which is quite significant,” Scott B. Sanders, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development, said in a statement. “The Hoosier labor force has also grown by more than 43,000 in 2014 alone. There is definitely more work to do, but it remains clear that Hoosiers are going back to work and good jobs are available,” he added.

State officials said unemployment rose primarily because 4,000 individuals returned to the labor force.

The situation is typical for the summer months, said David Dilts, professor of economics at IPFW.

“You always see adjustments in employment during this time of year, as people like laid-off teachers, students and the like look for work,” he said. “That’s normal.”

What does concern Dilts is that Indiana lawmakers are not putting a greater emphasis investing in education instead of right-to-work initiatives, he said.

“That’s never worked, as far as getting industry,” Dilts said. “That’s why we’re still behind Southern states in drawing investors. You can’t out-South the South. Indiana isn’t doing a very good job in putting money into the universities and K-12.”

Improving infrastructure is another area that would bolster the job outlook, Dilts said. The educator said he’s been laughed at by Asian investors when they discover they can’t take a train to northeast Indiana.

Even so, unemployment in metro Fort Wayne a year ago June was more than 2 percentage points higher than last month at 7.5 percent.

Two of the four states neighboring Indiana saw seasonally adjusted unemployment drop, while the others were unchanged in June.

Illinois declined to 7.1 percent in June, compared with 7.5 percent a month earlier; Kentucky was 7.4 percent, compared with 7.7 percent in May. The joblessness rate in Ohio and Michigan didn’t budge in June from a month earlier. Ohio was 5.5 percent and Michigan was 7.5 percent.

Unemployment figures in the four Ohio counties bordering northeast Indiana – Williams, Defiance, Paulding and Van Wert – will be released Tuesday.