Almost anyone who wants to work is.
Unemployment in the Fort Wayne metro area was just 1.2% in last month, according to data the Indiana Department of Workforce Development released Wednesday. Just 2,562 individuals in a labor force of 211,787 were without jobs.
The 1.2% December 2021 jobless rate was down substantially from 4.3% in December 2020 when 9,213 individuals in a labor force of 215,671 were unemployed.
Wednesday's report continued to show “historically unprecedented low unemployment rates,” said Rachel Blakeman, director of the Purdue University Fort Wayne Community Research Institute.
“I've studied labor market data for years, including looking at the numbers from the dot-com boom in the late '90s, and I've never seen anything that looks like this,” Blakeman said in a a statement.
November's unemployment for the Fort Wayne metro area that includes Allen, Wells and Whitley counties was 2.0%.
Those who track unemployment say evaluating the same month year-over-year provides the best comparison because of seasonal changes that affect employment.
In December, 39 of the state's 92 counties had a jobless rate of 1.0% or less. Lake County, which includes Crown Point, East Chicago and Gary, had the state's highest unemployment – 2.5%. LaGrange County had the lowest at 0.7%, state figures show.
Statewide, the December jobless rate was 1.3%, but 2.7% when seasonally adjusted. Workforce Development did not respond to requests Wednesday to explain the vast spread. In December 2020, unemployment was 4.4%, or 4.6% seasonally adjusted.
Nationally, the December jobless rate was 3.7%, or 3.9% seasonally adjusted. In December 2020, it was 6.5%, or 6.7% seasonally adjusted.
The low jobless rate is “such an anomaly that it is not only hard to comprehend, but extremely difficult to summon speedy resolutions,” Rick Farrant of Northeast Indiana Works said in a statement.
While long-term strategies are being developed, Farrant said in the short term “it would be advantageous if more employers turned to underutilized populations, when possible, such as people with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities.” Providing internship and apprentice opportunities, he said, is another way to “bolster a workforce.”
January's county-by-county jobless rates are scheduled to be released March 15.