Metro area jobless rate at 4.4%

January 29th, 2016

News Coverage:
January 28, 2016 1:03 AM

Metro area jobless rate at 4.4%

Down from 5.4% a year ago, on par with state figure

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne metropolitan statistical area’s jobless rate ticked up to 4.4 percent last month, just one-tenth of a percentage point higher than in November, Indiana Department of Workforce Development officials announced Wednesday.

The Fort Wayne MSA comprises Allen, Wells and Whitley counties.

The rate matches Indiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 4.4 percent for December, which held steady from the previous month. The national seasonally adjusted rate also held steady for December and November at 5.0 percent.

County and MSA data aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations because the sample size is too small.

Comparing data from December 2015 and December 2014, the Fort Wayne MSA has added 4,711 jobs, and 2,713 more people were in the workforce. The unemployment rate also dropped by a full percentage point from 5.4 percent.

During the same 12-month period, Indiana added 86,696 jobs and 50,746 people to the workforce. Since January 2013, the state’s labor force has grown by 109,037, the most in the Midwest, Indiana officials said.

Michael Hicks, director of Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, described the state’s employment data as good news.

“The end of 2015 jobs report signaled a fairly strong year for Indiana’s economy,” he said in a statement. “Overall declines in the unemployment rate, gains in labor force and employment were all strong, and led most of the nation throughout the year.”

Hicks warned, however, that a slowing national economy might be reflected in declines in Indiana’s manufacturing employment, which fell to 520,000 in December from 523,000 in November, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Indiana’s jobless rate was lower than all of its neighboring states in December.

Unemployment was 5.9 percent in Illinois last month, 5.3 percent in Kentucky, 5.1 percent in Michigan and 4.7 percent in Ohio.