Gary unemployment rate drops but still highest in all of Indiana

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By Erick Johnson

Gary’s unemployment rate in July dropped, but more people remain out of work than in any city in the state, according to the latest figures from the Indiana Depart­ment of Workforce Develop­ment.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to have devastat­ing impact on the country, but many Indiana cities are showing signs of improve­ment, including Gary.

Data shows Gary’s unem­ployment rate dropped to 17.5 percent in July from 21.9 percent in June. How­ever, Gary still has the high­est unemployment rate in Indiana among cities with populations over 25,000.

By contrast, Gary’s unem­ployment rate in July 2019 was 7.8 percent. In June, the unemployment rate in Gary was 21.9 percent, compared to 7.1 percent in June 2019. In May, the unemployment rate in Gary was 20 percent, compared to 6.2 percent in May 2019.

The Gary Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which consists of Lake, Por­ter, Jasper and Newton coun­ties, also had the highest un­employment rate among the state’s 13 metro regions. Data show the Gary metropolitan area had an unemployment rate of 10.6 percent, com­pared to 14.6 percent in June. The unemployment rate in the Gary MSA in July 2019 was 4.6 percent.

Among nine Northwest In­diana cities with populations over 25,000, six in July had unemployment rates in the double digits. They include Gary (17.5 percent), East Chicago (15.3 percent), Mer­rillville (13.3 percent), Ho­bart (12.7 percent), Elkhart (11.4 percent) and Hammond (11.4 percent). Schererville in July had the lowest unem­ployment rate at 8.7 percent, followed by Muncie (9.4 per­cent) and Crown Point (9.7 percent).In May and June all nine Northwest Indiana cities had an unemployment rates in the double digits.

In July, Lake County had the second highest unemploy­ment rate among Indiana’s 92 counties. That month, the unemployment rate in Lake County was 11.2 percent. Or­ange County in southern Indiana had the highest unem­ployment rate at 14.3 percent.

Statewide, Indiana’s unem­ployment rate fell to 7.9 per­cent in July from 11.2 percent in June. In May, the unem­ployment rate in Indiana was 11.9 percent. The unemploy­ment rate in Indiana in May, June and July 2019, was 2.9 percent, 3.3 percent and 3.5 percent respectively.

Nationally, the unemploy­ment rate continues to drop. In July, the unemployment rate fell to 10.5 percent from 11.2 percent in June.

In August, the Indianapolis Star reported that Indiana is on pace to deplete its unemployment insurance trust fund in September.

Citing data from the U.S. Department Treasury, the Star reported that Indiana’s unemployment insurance trust fund had $886.8 million in March before the pandemic. As of August 5, the fund had a balance of $171.8 million.

Employers consistently fi­nance the state’s trust fund, but the money is reportedly not enough to keep up with the high level of pandemic-re­lated job claims and losses.

Federal unemployment ben­efits ended July 31 after mil­lions of Americans stopped receiving $600 checks on top of their state benefits.

Since then, Democrats in Congress and President Don­ald Trump have been at odds over new relief legislation, with the two sides trillions of dollars apart. In August, law­makers left Washington with­out an agreement.

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