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County's unemployment rate in February at 5.5 percent


Sullivan County’s unemployment rate improved slightly, by .1 percent, to 5.5 percent in February — and also improved from 5th-worst to 8th-worst in the state rankings — according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Still, the 5.5 percent rate is the second-highest since February 2017, when it was 6.3 percent. The rate was only above 5 percent four times in 2018, the highest being 5.3 percent a year earlier.

The county has now been ranked in the top 10 statewide for the past 17 months.

The state’s non-seasonably adjusted labor force estimates for February continue to indicate the county remains ahead in labor force and employed, but has more unemployed workers when compared to last year’s numbers.

The county’s unemployment rate remains .2 percent higher than last year’s 5.3 percent.

To wit:

• The county’s labor force was 8,703 in February, compared to 8,589 a year ago.

• The number of persons employed was 8,228 in February, compared to 8,135 last year.

• The number of unemployed workers was 475 in February, compared to 454 a year ago.

The gap from top to bottom — Vermillion 7 percent (worst), Hamilton 3.1 percent (best) — is 3.9 percent, up .1 percent from January.

Besides Vermillion, the only counties faring worse than Sullivan were Crawford (6.3), LaPorte and Newton (5.9), and Lake and Starke (5.8).

Other nearby counties include Vigo (9th-worst, 5.5), Parke (18th, 4.8), Clay (23rd, 4.6), Brown (33rd, 4.4), Monroe (46th, 4.2), Knox (54th, 4.0), Daviess (81st, 3.3), Dubois (90th, 3.1) and Gibson (91st, 3.1).

Indiana’s unemployment rate stands at 3.5 percent for February and remains lower than the national rate of 3.8 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 more than five years.

Indiana’s labor force had a net increase of 7,997 over the previous month. This was a result of an increase of 1,755 unemployed residents and an increase of 6,242 employed residents. The state’s total labor force, which includes both those employed and seeking employment, stands at 3.4 million, and the state’s 65.2 percent labor force participation rate remains above the national rate of 63.2 percent.

Private sector employment has grown by 40,400 over the year and 4,400 over the previous month. The monthly increase is primarily due to gains in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities (3,300) and the Professional and Business Services (2,500) sectors. 

Gains were partially offset by losses in the Construction (-2,100) and the Financial Activities (-900) sectors. 

Total private employment reached a preliminary record high point of 2,747,600, which is 15,500 above the December 2018 peak.

In bordering states compared to last year, Michigan has improved .4 percent (4.4 to 4 percent), Kentucky improved .2 percent (4.3 to 4.1 percent), Illinois improved .1 percent (4.4 to 4.3), while Ohio dropped .1 percent (4.5 to 4.6 percent).

The March Indiana Employment Report will be released April 19, with the Indiana County, City and MSA Employment Report released April 22.

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