Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 20, 2012

Kokomo jobless numbers on decline

Local leaders say we’re heading in right direction

By Megan Graham
Tribune staff writer

— The latest figures released by the Indiana Workforce Development indicate a drop in Kokomo’s unemployment rate from 8.4 percent to 8.2 percent, from September to October.

The city’s rate was 10 percent in October 2011. The estimated labor force in Kokomo rose from 42,586 individuals to 43,258 individuals.

“If you look at the U.S. rate from September to October, it went down one-tenth of a percent. The state dropped one-tenth of a percent and our community dropped two-tenths of a percent,” said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight. “We have outperformed or stayed on par with the state and the country. Obviously, we’re heading in the right direction, even though it may be slower than many of us would like.”

Jeb Conrad, president and CEO of the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance, said he had similar sentiments. He recalled several years ago, when Kokomo’s unemployment rate towered over Indiana’s. He said today’s numbers are a huge improvement.

Conrad also said the unemployment rate hasn’t reflected the growing number of people coming into the community to fill employment for skilled positions at the major employers.

“The ultimate thing would be for every new job put in the paper and advertised to be filled by someone from Kokomo,” he said.

He said community organizations will keep trying to put people to work.

“We’re doing better than I think anybody could ever imagine, but we always want to do better,” Conrad said.

Megan Graham is the Kokomo Tribune business reporter. She can be reached by phone at 765-454-8570, email at megan.graham@kokomotribune.com.