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The Journal Gazette

September 22, 2016 1:02 AM

Metro area's jobless rate rises slightly for August

Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne metropolitan statistical area jobless rate increased by 0.3 percentage point to 4.3 percent in August as 430 people joined the unemployment rolls, bringing the total to 9,398, the Indiana Department of workforce development announced Wednesday.

The MSA comprises Allen, Wells and Whitley counties.

Compared with August 2015, the area jobless rate increased by 0.2 percentage point.

But more people were in the labor force last month than a year ago – almost 10,000 more. And 9,154 more were employed – a total of 211,171.

Valerie Richardson, research associate at IPFW’s Community Research Institute, noted that every one of northeast Indiana’s counties reported higher unemployment in August than in July. And most of them had higher rates than August 2015, too.

“But I’m not going to get too excited right now,” she said in an email.

“The area had been reaching new highs in labor force and employment the last few months. I don’t believe anyone expect new highs every month.”

August’s labor force and employment numbers are comparable to those from May and June, Richardson said, adding that they are “still pretty good.”

Richardson speculated that some people might be dipping their toes back into the labor market, checking to see how much employers are offering to pay and holding out for higher wages.

“We’ll have to see how the labor force numbers play out with that thought,” she added.

Indiana businesses added 5,600 new jobs in August, officials reported Tuesday. The state’s jobless rate was 4.5 percent after adjusting for seasonal fluctuations. That was 0.1 percentage point lower than in July.

County and MSA rates are not adjusted because the sample sizes are too small, according to officials.

Michigan’s jobless rate was also 4.5 percent last month. Ohio reported a slightly higher rate at 4.7 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate of 4.9 percent in August matched the nation’s July jobless rate.

sslater@jg.net