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The Journal Gazette

Metro area jobless rate falls to 6.8%, a 4-year low

Metro Fort Wayne had a noteworthy drop in unemployment in October, with the rate declining to 6.8 percent from 7.5 percent a month ago, figures released Tuesday showed.

Joblessness in the metropolitan area – comprising Allen, Whitley and Wells counties – was lower than the average for the state and the nation, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development said.

Indiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also declined, to 8 percent in October from 8.2 percent in September. The seasonally adjusted jobless figure for the nation inched up to 7.9 percent last month from 7.8 percent in September.

As for the Fort Wayne area, the last time the jobless rate dropped below 7 percent was October 2008, when the rate was 6.4 percent.

That is significant, workplace adviser Steve Corona said.

“It’s too early to see holiday hiring reflected, so I really believe that what we’re seeing” is an increase in full-time employment, said Corona, owner of Corona Consulting, which helps employment and training agencies. “You could look at the glass as being half empty because maybe fewer people are looking, but I don’t see it that way.”

Neither do state officials.

“Over the past year, Indiana has experienced one of the strongest periods of job growth in over a decade,” said Scott Sanders, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development. “Since last October, we have added nearly 67,000 private-sector jobs and continue to significantly outpace the national rate of growth.”

In neighboring states, seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in October compared with a month ago either declined or remained flat. Illinois remained at 8.8 percent and Kentucky at 8.4 percent. In Michigan, joblessness decreased to 9.1 percent from 9.3 percent; Ohio had the lowest rate at 6.9 percent, down from 7 percent.

October data for the four Ohio counties bordering northeast Indiana – Defiance, Paulding, Van Wert and Williams – was better than for metro Fort Wayne. Defiance had a 6.3 percent rate, compared with 6.7 percent in September; Paulding declined to 5.9 percent from 6.3 percent; Van Wert increased to 7 percent from 6.7 percent; and Williams decreased to 6.8 percent from 6.9 percent.