Jobless rate at 10-month high

    Adams County ended 2011 with its largest unemployment rate in 10 months, according to figures released Tuesday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
    The county's December jobless rate stood at 8.5 percent, the highest in the county since February of 2011. The year's final figures capped a roller-coaster 12 months for local jobless levels.
    After beginning 2011 with a 9.2 percent unemployment mark in January, the county saw declines for the next three months, bottoming out at 7.6 percent in April before starting a slow climb upward. The November jobless rate stood at 8.3 percent.
    The county's jobless rate one year earlier, in December of 2010, was 8.7 percent. The latest state report showed that 1,263 members of the county's total workforce of 13,847 remained without jobs last month.
    Larry Macklin, director of the Adams County Economic Development office, said the county's jobless rate is lower than the state rate and identical to the U.S. unemployment level. "It's still not good enough, but we (Adams County) continue to have one of the lowest jobless rates in northeast Indiana."
    Macklin said a few seasonal layoffs countywide, and what is believed to be a temporary layoff at the Ficosa factory in Berne to allow for a re-tooling of production lines there, may have contributed to the uptick in jobless numbers during December.
    "But I don't believe this is a definitive trend. We are maintaining right now."
    According to the latest state report, the list of counties with the highest jobless rate in the state during December 2011 was topped by Fayette at 12.3 percent. Rounding out the top 10 were Vermillion, 12.2; Elkhart, 11.2; Tipton, 11.0; Blackford, 10.9; and Henry, Lawrence, Miami, Scott and Starke counties, all at 10.7 percent.
    December unemployment levels for other counties in northeast and east-central Indiana included Jay County, 7.4 percent, Randolph, 9.9; Wells, 8.0; Huntington, 8.7; Allen, 8.6; and Whitley, 8.0 percent.
    Indiana's December jobless rate stood at 9.0 percent, identical to the previous month and .5 percent higher than the U.S. rate.
    Unemployment during December 2011 in Indiana's neighboring states included Illinois, 9.8 percent; Kentucky, 9.1; Michigan, 9.3 and Ohio, 8.1 percent.
    Mark W. Everson, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development, said Indiana added 12,000 private sector jobs in December. The state’s labor force grew by 17,200, the largest increase in over 35 years, he said.
    Since July, the state’s labor force has increased by 2.2 percent, while the national labor force increased by 0.3 percent. The national unemployment rate declined from a revised 8.7 percent to 8.5 percent.
    “We led the nation in job creation” during December, said Everson. “Unlike our neighbors who are seeing more discouraged workers, Indiana's labor force is growing sharply as Hoosiers return to work. The year closed out with strong growth in employment and a continued increase in the labor force. December was one of the best months for job creation in over a decade.”

County jobless
rates in 2011

8.5 % in December
8.3% in November
8.1% in October
7.8% in September
8.0% in August
8.1% in July
8.0% in June
7.8% in May
7.6% in April
8.2% in March
8.8% in February
9.2% in January