The president of the WorkOne employment and retraining agency addressed Adams County's unemployment situation at last week's meeting of the county commissioners and had good news about overall economic improvement in this corner of the state.
Kathleen Randolph told the executives that the county unemployment rate is 9.9 percent, with 1,503 people out of work, but that's much better than one year ago, when the county jobless level was 14.8 percent. The county ranks 48th among 92 counties in Indiana in its unemployment rate.
Randolph added that the county's "labor participation rate" is steady, with just eight-tenths of a percent decline recently, and she praised "the resilience of the Adams County workforce."
She also remarked that, in northeastern Indiana, "economic growth looks pretty good" and is better than other areas of the state.
While 1,500 people have no jobs in the county, she said the WorkOne office in Decatur is handling more than 1,700 people, since some who have jobs are undergoing retraining to seek better jobs.
According to Randolph, in today's world there is no such thing as "job security," but there is "skill security," so she advises people to learn skills that will remain important in the future.
Two years ago, she said, WorkOne changed its focus to emphasize development of skills, greater education, and more training.
The total amount of money available for WorkOne is $16 million and 65 to 70 percent of that is being used for education and training of people, Randolph said.
In Adams County, she noted that the majority of jobs are in manufacturing, health care, and social services, so WorkOne has a "customized recruitment" concept for potential workers. The agency identifies employers, then checks preapproved candidates for any available positions, she stated.
WorkOne also has a new on-the-job training program, said Randolph. The goal was to train 400 people in the first year, but 915 were trained, thanks in part to money from Lilly Endowment at Indianapolis.
She pointed out that workforce boards were created in Indiana, but the U.S. Department of Labor looks upon those unfavorably, so the state will return to a work investment board system, which will be eligible for more federal money because the Labor Department likes that method.
County Auditor Bill Borne asked Randolph about unemployment of Amish people in the county, since that is hard to tabulate and since, he said, the county's population is one-third Amish.
Randolph did not have any figures on Amish joblessness, but speculated that it's higher than the rate for the non-Amsh population. She said Amish people do collect unemployment payments if their bishop approves.