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.