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Jennings Sunday: Jobless number among highest

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Jennings County had the seventh-highest unemployment rate among Hoosier counties during January.

Figures released last week by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development show January’s jobless rate in Jennings County at 12 percent. That’s a jump of a half a percentage point from the same month in 2012.

The only counties with higher unemployment rates in January were Vermillion (13.5 percent), Sullivan (13.3), Crawford (12.8), Fayette (12.7), Lawrence (12.6) and Starke (12.5).

A silver lining in Jennings County’s high unemployment rate is that 102 more residents were working in January than during the same month a year earlier. During that same period, the county had the 10th-fastest job growth rate in Indiana at 0.87 percent.

But at least two factors had a negative impact on the unemployment rate, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Jennings County’s labor force increased by 181 workers during the same one-year period. That offset the gains in employment. Most were residents who earlier might have given up trying to find work but are now actively seeking jobs and willing to work, according to the state agency.

January’s rate has not been adjusted to reflect seasonal variations in employment. That modification won’t be known until revised jobless rates are released a month from now.

The number of unemployed county residents in January went up 1.7 percentage points from December’s 10.3 jobless rate. However, since each month is subjected to a variety of seasonal factors, state officials traditionally discourage month-to-month comparisons.

When compared with January 2012, regional county unemployment rates were nearly all higher in January. Both Ripley and Bartholomew counties reported larger increases in the unemployment rates than Jennings, while Jefferson and Jackson counties had

similar hikes. A smaller increase was noted in Decatur County.

Only Scott County, which had a 10.1 percent jobless rate in January, experienced a decrease in its unemployment over the 12-month period.

As a whole, the state jobless rate went up half-a-percentage point to 9.6 percent, despite the fact that Indiana added 8,200 private-sector jobs in January, marking the 19th consecutive month of job growth.

Workforce agency commissioner Scott Sanders said last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor used a new and inaccurate formula that shows unemployment rates in Indiana higher than they actually are.

He added the figures were skewed because the state labor force increased by 14,000 in January, the largest one-month expansion since November 1993.

The bureau estimated that number includes 10,000 Hoosiers returning to the labor force and seeking jobs.

Every state had higher jobless rates than a year earlier.

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