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County's jobless rate drops 1.1 percent, but still ranked fourth-worst in state


Sullivan County’s unemployment rate has been on a roller coaster ride the past few months. At this juncture in its journey, the good news is the rate improved to 4.1 percent in September, yet only improved from third- to fourth-worst in the state.

Starting in February, the county’s rate was at 5.3 percent, then went down to 3.9 percent by April, back up to 5.2 percent by August, before dipping 1.1 percent in September, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The county has now been ranked in the top 10 statewide for the past year.

The state’s IDWD labor force estimates report for September shows the county is still ahead in labor force and employed, but once again has slightly more unemployed compared to last year’s numbers. The county’s unemployment rate remains .3 percent higher than last year’s 3.8 percent.

To wit:

• The county’s labor force was 8,512 in September, compared to 8,446 a year ago.

• The number of persons employed was 8,161 in September, compared to 8,125 last year.

• The number of unemployed workers was 351 in September, compared to 321 a year ago.

The gap from top to bottom — Vermillion 4.8 percent (worst), Dubois 2.1 percent (best) — is 2.7 percent, a drop of .4 percent from August.

Besides Vermillion, the only counties faring worse than Sullivan were Lake (4.5 percent) and Fayette (4.3).

Other nearby counties include Vigo (5th-worst, 4.0 percent), Greene (10th, 3.8), Parke (13th, 3.6), Monroe (39th, 3.1), Knox (55th, 2.8), Brown (60th, 2.7), Daviess (83rd, 2.3), Gibson (84th, 2.3) and Dubois (92nd, 2.1). 

Indiana’s unemployment rate stands at 3.5 percent for September and remains lower than the national rate of 3.7 percent. With the exception of one month when it was equal (October 2014), Indiana’s unemployment rate now has been below the U.S. rate for nearly five years.

Indiana’s labor force had a net increase of 4,564 over the previous month, a result of a 337 decrease in unemployed residents and an increase of 4,901 employed residents. Indiana’s total labor force, which includes both Hoosiers employed and those seeking employment, stands at 3.39 million. The state’s 65.1 percent labor force participation rate remains above the national rate of 62.7 percent.

The number of Indiana’s ongoing regular unemployment insurance claims is the lowest since 1976, when these claims were first recorded, according to the IDWD.

Private sector employment has grown by more than 26,400 over the year and has increased by 2,500 over the previous month, primarily due to gains in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities (2,400) and the Other (1,700), which includes Mining and Logging and IT. 

Gains were partially offset by losses in the Manufacturing (-1,300) and Educational and Health Services (-1,000) sectors. Total private employment stands at 2,710,900 and is 22,000 above the December 2017 peak.

In bordering states compared to last year, Illinois has improved .9 percent (5 to 4.1 percent), Michigan .7 percent (4.7 to 4), Ohio .4 percent (5 to 4.6) and Kentucky .2 percent (4.7 to 4.5).

The October Indiana Employment Report will be released Nov. 16, with the Indiana County, City and MSA Employment Report released Nov. 19.

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