Howard County's February unemployment rate highest in the state

Tyler Juranovich, Kokomo Tribune, Ind.

Apr. 1—Howard County topped the state's unemployment rankings in February, recently released unemployment figures show.

The county had a non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 8.5% in February, according to numbers released Monday by the Indiana Department of Workforce and Development (DWD). That's more than a whole percentage above Lake County, which had the second highest unemployment rate in February with 7.4%

Miami and Tipton counties' February unemployment rate were 6.5% (4th highest) and 4.7% (43rd highest), respectively.

February marks at least the third time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that Howard County has topped the state's unemployment rankings. Shortly after lockdowns were implemented last year, the county reported a 34.1% unemployment rate in April due to, in large part, Stellantis plants temporarily closing.

February's high unemployment rate is almost certainly caused by the furlough of roughly 1,800 local Stellantis workers that was caused by the global shortage of microchips.

The county's peak continued claims (those receiving unemployment benefits) was in the week ending on Feb. 13 where 1,794 residents were receiving unemployment benefits. The vast majority of those — 1,155 — were from the manufacturing sector, according to data from the DWD.

The county's unemployment claims through the rest of February and March have declined considerably, though, since then, indicating the county's unemployment rate should decrease in March.

As of March 13, just 435 county residents were receiving unemployment benefits, the lowest number since the onset of the pandemic.

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich