Unemployment in Adams County hit its lowest point in nearly three years during March, leaving the county with the most attractive jobless rate among all northeast Indiana counties.
According to figures released Tuesday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the county's unemployment rate for March was 8.2 percent, down from 8.8 percent one month earlier and 9.2 percent in January. March's reading marked the lowest unemployment level in the county since a rate of 8.0 percent in July of 2008.
The state's report placed Adams County as the 26th lowest in overall unemployment among Indiana's 92 counties. Jobless rates for other counties in northeastern Indiana during March included: Jay, 8.4 percent; Wells, 8.6; Allen, 8.9; Blackford, 10.5; Huntington, 9.3; Whitley, 8.6; DeKalb, 9.9; Noble, 11.0; Steuben, 10.6; and Lagrange, 9.4 percent.
Fayette County had the state's highest unemployment rate during March at 12.5 percent. Rounding out the top 10 counties in overall joblessness were Vermillion, 11.7; Crawford, 11.6; Tipton, 11.4; Franklin, Jennings and Newton, 11.3; Hentry, Putnam and Starke, 11.2 percent.
According to the workforce report, 1,189 of Adams County's total labor force of 14,478 remained out of work during March. Those figure show that 89 county residents returned to work during the month.
Larry Macklin, director of the Adams County Economic Development Corp., said existing businesses have slowly but steadily been recalling laid-off workers, resulting in the lower unemployment rate. He said Fleetwood, Thunderbird and other established firms in the county have begun to "grow back" to earlier workforce levels.
"And in the last 45 days or so we've had a couple of local businesses inquire about expansion projects, and three more that have inquired about location in the area," Macklin added. "I'm real excited about the potential expansion prospects, but I think we are growing mainly through our existing business base."
Indiana’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent last month.
Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Mark Everson said Tuesday the new rate compares with one of 8.8 percent in February to 9.5 percent in December, marking the first time since 1993 that Indiana’s jobless rate has fallen by a full percentage point within a three-month period.
Indiana’s rate last month was lower than any of its neighboring states and the 8.8 percent national rate. Jobless rates for neighboring states were: Illinois, 11.0; Kentucky, 10.8; Michigan, 13.3; and Ohio, 10.5 percent.
The agency says total non-farm employment increased by 10,000 jobs, with manufacturing accounting for the largest gains with 5,200 jobs added. Leisure and hospitality services followed with 3,000 new jobs. The professional and business services sector reported the most significant decline, losing 2,200 jobs in March.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.