County shares No. 1 in March employment report


Dubois and Hamilton counties tied for No. 1 in a March employment report that only hints at the impact future reports will show COVID-19 having on unemployment.

The unemployment rates in Dubois and Hamilton counties held at 2.4% for the No. 1 ranking in the latest Indiana Department of Workforce Development report that also showed Indiana’s overall rate increasing by one-tenth of a percent to land at 3.2%.

Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne, speaking during Gov. Eric J. Holcomb’s weekly press conference Friday, explained that monthly employment reports represent a coordinated effort throughout the nation with a specified reporting time frame that targets the week that includes the 12th day of the month.

“For March,” the commissioner said, “that week actually ended right before we started seeing a surge in our unemployment claims.”

Payne said next month’s report will be more reflective of the economic downturn, covering the second half of March and the first few weeks of April.

It is known that the first week of April saw 127,010 Hoosiers file unemployment claims, according to Hoosiers By The Numbers. Two weeks prior to that, there were 2,300 statewide claims. There were 118,184 initial unemployment claims the next week that ended April 11, which was a 4,886.7% change from the same week in 2019.

The new state report covering the first two weeks of March says the state as a whole lost more than 18,700 private sector jobs over the previous month, primarily due to losses in the leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation and utilities and manufacturing sectors, according to Workforce Development. The March rates in some other Midwest states rose a full percentage point or more.

Lake County had the highest March unemployment in Indiana: 5.3%.

Most — but not all — of Dubois County’s other neighboring counties saw their March rates actually fall. Those rates were: Daviess, 2.7% (down from 2.8%); Martin, 2.7% (up from 2.4%) Orange, 3.7% (down from 3.8%); Perry, 3.1% (down from 3.4%); Pike, 3.5% (down from 3.8%); Spencer, 3.4% (down from 4.0%) and Warrick, 2.8% (down from 2.9%).

Indiana’s overall state rate of 3.2% in March was lower than the national rate of 4.4%.

Indiana’s March labor force had a net decrease of 119,073 people over the previous month. That was a result of a decrease of 391 unemployed residents coupled with an decrease of 118,682 employed residents, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Indiana’s total labor force, which includes both Hoosiers employed and those seeking employment, stood at 3.27 million, and the state’s 62.2% labor force participation rate remained above the national rate of 62.7%.

Dubois County’s labor force consisted of 22,196 people in March — 21,663 of whom were employed. That left 533 classified as unemployed.

By way of comparison, the county’s rate in March 2019 was 2.8% or four-tenths of a percent higher than the third month of this year.

Indiana’s 3.2% March rate was lower than all of its immediate neighboring states. Those other states’ rates were Ohio, 5.5% (up from 4.1%); Kentucky, 5.8% (up from 4.2%); Michigan, 4.1% (up from 3.6%); and Illinois, 4.6% (up from 3.4%). Other favorable Midwest rates in March were Minnesota, 3.1% (unchanged), and Wisconsin, 3.4% (down from 3.5%).

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