Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 2, 2013

Miami Co. jobless rate falls to four-year low

Officials cite manufacturing expansion for higher employment.

By Carson Gerber Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — PERU — The unemployment rate in Miami County dropped to a four-year low in August but, despite the decrease, the county still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

The unemployment rate in the county spiked to 14.6 percent in 2009 after the recession struck. It has gradually decreased every year since.

In August, the rate dropped to 9.2 percent from 10.2 percent in July thanks the expansion of manufacturing jobs in Peru and the surrounding area.

Earlier this year, Peru companies Snavely Machine and American Stationery announced they would be hiring more workers. Dean Baldwin Painting located near Grissom Air Reserve Base also hired 150 employees this year.

Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority, said another reason for falling unemployment is manufacturing growth in surrounding counties.

“On the surface, this is a good thing,” he said. “Any drop, we’ll take it.”

But even with the regional job market expanding, the county still has the seventh highest unemployment rate in the state.

Tidd said there isn’t a specific reason why many county residents are still looking for work. He said some factors may include an unskilled or aging workforce or changes in commuting patterns.

County officials are trying to pinpoint employment problems in the area, Tidd said, and come up with solutions to help residents find jobs.

“We’re working on it and making progress,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have the lowest unemployment rate in the state at some point … The lower unemployment rate is good news, but we know we still have a ways to go. There’s work to be done, but we’ll get there.”

Indiana’s overall unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent in August from 8.3 percent in July, making it the largest one-month drop in more than two years.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.