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The Journal Gazette

Jobless rate steady at 7.5%

Fort Wayne region faring better than state, nation

The unemployment rate in metro Fort Wayne held steady at 7.5 percent in September, Indiana Department of Workforce Development figures showed Friday.

Joblessness in the metropolitan area – made up of Allen, Whitley and Wells counties – was lower than the average for the state and the nation. Still, Indiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined slightly to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent in August.

The seasonally adjusted jobless figure for the nation also declined to 7.8 percent last month from 8.1 percent in August.

“I find it particularly encouraging that Hoosiers are returning to the labor force,” said Scott Sanders, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development. “Indiana also continues to outpace the nation in rate of private sector job growth, and state continued unemployment insurance claims are at their lowest level since 2000.”

Department spokesman Joe Frank pointed out sectors in the state that are experiencing the greatest growth – manufacturing, private education and health services, leisure and hospitality and construction.

Dan O’Connell, president and CEO of VisitFortWayne, said hotels being a leading growth sector caught him somewhat off guard.

“I knew we were doing well,” he said, “but I wasn’t sure if we were leading in job growth.”

O’Connell said it does make sense, though, because the industry is coming back as “business travel has picked up.”

All of the counties in northeast Indiana had increased employment and more people in the labor force in September, compared with August, said John Stafford, director of the Community Research Institute at IPFW.

“It was good news,” he said. “It did surprise me a bit because the numbers were good all across the region.”

In neighboring states, seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in September compared with a month ago also dropped. Illinois had an 8.8 percent rate from 9.1 percent; Kentucky, 8.4 percent from 8.5 percent; Michigan, 9.3 percent from 9.4 percent; and Ohio had the lowest rate at 7 percent from 7.2 percent.

September data for the four Ohio counties bordering northeast Indiana – Defiance, Paulding, Van Wert and Williams – likely will be released next week.