Jobless rate tumbles

    The unemployment report for the final month of 2010 provided an upbeat spin on the just-completed year: Joblessness in Adams County during December hit its lowest level since October of 2008.
    Statistics released Tuesday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development showed the county's December unemployment rate of 8.7 percent was nearly a full percentage point below November's 9.6 percent reading. The county's October 2010 jobless rate was 9.1 percent. Adams County began 2010 with an 11.8 unemployment rate in January.
    The report listed Adams as one of five counties in northeast Indiana whose jobless rate fell below the state's 9.5 percent unemployment level for December. Only Jay County, with a December rate of 8 percent, was lower than Adams County in the 18-county region. Whitley and Kosciusko matched Adams County's 8.7 jobless rate for the month.
    The latest statistics show 1,292 members of Adams County's total workforce of 14,810 remained unemployed during December.
    Larry Macklin, executive director of the Adams County Economic Development Corp., said local industry is on a slow but steady upward swing.
    "Little by little our industries are beginning to hire people back," Macklin said. "We are seeing more interest in expansion, and have also fielded a couple of inquiries from businesses interested in northeast Indiana.
    "We're not out of the woods by any means, but if we keep pushing away I think those (unemployment) numbers will be something we can be pleased with," Macklin added.
    He said lending institutions are beginning to relax some restrictions, making credit more easily obtainable, which in turn should help push local jobless numbers even lower.
    "We have some good, solid industries in Adams County, and as a result I think the numbers will continue to decline," Macklin said.
    Monthly jobless rates in Adams Co. for 2010
December - 8.7%
November - 9.6%
October - 9.1%
September - 9.4%
August - 9.9%
July - 9.9%
June  - 10%
May - 9.8%
April - 10.4%
March - 11.2%
February - 11.6%
January - 11.8%

    The state's December jobless rate dropped three-tenths of a percent from November's 9.8 level. The last time Indiana's unemployment rate was at 9.5 percent was February 2009. The number of unemployed Hoosiers is below 300,000 for the first time since January 2009, according to the labor report.
    "Indiana's unemployment rate is at its lowest level in almost two years," said Mark W. Everson, Commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development. "Over the course of 2010, we saw growth in manufacturing and professional and business services, partially offset by declines in construction."
    December jobless rates for states bordering Indiana included Illinois, 11 percent; Kentucky, 10.6; Ohio, 10.8, and Michigan, 14.5 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate for December was 9.9 percent.
    Elkhart County continued to lead the state with unemployment during December of 12.8 percent, down from 14.8 percent one year earlier.
    Other counties with the state's highest unemployment in December included Fayette and Vermillion, 12.5 percent; Noble, 11.4; Crawford, Starke and Jenninngs, 11.3; Henry, 11.1; and Franklin and Wayne, each at 10.9 percent. The lowest jobless rate in the state was in Daviess County at 5.3 percent.
    The December unemployment rate for other counties in northeast Indiana included: Wells, 8.3 percent, Jay, 8.0; Allen, 9.4; Huntington, 9.6; Whitley, 8.7; and DeKalb, 10.0 percent.