Unemployment in Gary dropped to 14.3 percent in October

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Northwest Indiana cities saw bigger drops in unemployment in same month

Crusader Staff Report

Unemployment in Gary fell to 14.3 percent in October as other cities saw bigger drops that month during the pandemic, according to the latest figures from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Gary’s unemployment rate in September was 15.9 percent. That’s 1.6 percent higher than October’s unemployment figures in the city. Gary’s unemployment rate of 20 percent in May has been steadily falling in the past several months, but at a slower pace than most cities in Northwest Indiana.

Gary is one of two Northwest Indiana cities whose unemployment rate remain in the double digits. The other city, East Chicago, had an unemployment rate of 11.6 percent in October, down by 1.6 percent from September’s 13.2 percent unemployment rate.

The seven remaining Northwest Indiana cities experienced bigger unemployment declines that same month.

Merrillville and Hammond experienced the biggest unemployment drop in October. The unemployment rate in both cities dropped by 2.7 percent. In September, Merrillville’s unemployment rate was 10.9 percent. Hammond’s unemployment rate that month was 9 percent.

Hobart’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.4 percent in September to 5.9 percent in October, a 2.5 percent decline. Schererville’s unemployment rate in September was 6.1 percent before it dropped to 4.4 percent in October. Crown Point’s unemployment rate in September was 6.4 percent before it dropped to 5.9 percent in October.

Overall, Indiana’s unemployment rate fell from 6.3 percent in September to 5 percent in October. Nationally, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 7.9 percent in September to 6.9 percent the following month.

November’s unemployment rate in many cities may increase after a surge in COVID-19 cases has led to tighter restrictions and more businesses closing across the country. And there are also questions of the U.S. Labor Department miscounting the number of people receiving unemployment benefits and underpaying those under a special program instituted to address the coronavirus pandemic, according to a government watchdog report November 30.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says unemployment recipients were sometimes undercounted and at other times overcounted due to multiple individual filings and issues particular to some states including California and Arizona.

At the same time, states also are underpaying those workers displaced because of the business restrictions associated with the pandemic.

Rather than provide compensation based on previous pay, states are paying out just the minimum level required. That has resulted in potential economic hardship as federal programs addressing the situation are about to run out.

On December 5, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a stimulus proposal worth about $908 billion, hoping to break a months-long partisan impasse over providing emergency federal relief to the U.S. economy.

Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) — held a news conference Tuesday morning, December 1 to push their proposal as a template for legislation that could pass Congress as the economy faces increasing strain from a winter surge.

“Our action to provide emergency relief is needed now more than ever before. The people need to know we are not going to leave until we get something accomplished,” Manchin said, flanked by about half a dozen lawmakers at the Capitol. “I’m committed to seeing this through.”

The proposed stimulus package would provide $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits for four months — a lower amount than the $600 per week Democrats sought, while still offering substantial relief to tens of millions of jobless Americans.

The package includes $160 billion in funding for state and local governments, a key Democratic priority opposed by most Republicans.

The package also calls for a temporary moratorium on some coronavirus-related lawsuits against firms and other entities — a key Republican priority that most Democrats oppose. The package also includes funding for small businesses, schools, health care, transit authorities and student loans, among other measures.

The package does include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks to working Americans.

Reports say the package is tentative and subject to change. It also faces enormous hurdles, and most congressional aides are skeptical that the push will succeed.

President Trump’s negotiators have remained at odds for months with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over multiple critical aspects of stimulus legislation, while Senate Republicans led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were broadly uncomfortable with the amount of spending the White House pushed at times.

McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) have argued over the stimulus package. McConnell on November 30 accused Democrats of “all-or-nothing obstruction.” Schumer said in a floor speech that “both sides must give,” but also trashed McConnell for advancing a GOP wish list in stimulus talks.

Economists have warned of devastating consequences for the economy and millions of Americans if no stimulus deal is passed.

A number of relief programs are set to expire at the end of the year. Twelve million Americans are on pace to lose their jobless benefits, and protections for renters and student borrowers are also set to expire along with a federal paid family leave program. Many have struggled after the first round of federal unemployment benefits expired in July.

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