by Sarah Einselen
Cass County’s unemployed workers may find hope from state unemployment figures released last week.
Unemployment in the county held steady at 7.7 percent for October after dropping in September from summer rates over 8 percent, according to non-seasonally-adjusted data released Tuesday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
That puts Cass’s rate just above the state’s 7.4 percent unemployment rate and below the rates in 31 of the state’s 92 counties.
And it’s significantly below the 9 percent rate seen last October.
“Everything I hear on a larger scale is positive,” said Connie Neininger, who started Monday as president of the Logansport-Cass County Economic Development Foundation. “There’s a lot of activity out there.”
Cass lands in the middle of the regional pack. Fulton County’s unemployment stands at 7.6 percent, Howard’s at 8.4 percent and Miami’s at 9.3 percent.
White County showed a 7 percent rate. Carroll County had 6.4 percent and Pulaski registered at 6.1 percent.
After Cass County unemployment spiked in late 2008 and again in early 2010, it’s been trending steadily downward, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. September marked the lowest rate seen since November 2008.
And now that the election’s over, Neininger suggested, companies that had been holding off on decisions regarding hiring or expansions are now going forward with plans.
The next challenge will be preparing local workers to use cutting-edge technology, she said.
“Workforce development is going to be key for future growth,” said Neininger. That includes training for technology in use today as well as technology that may not even be thought of yet.
But workforce development also includes training youth in junior high and high school classes to develop basic workplace skills, like a strong work ethic, punctuality and a positive attitude, Neininger added.
For example, students in Jobs for America’s Graduates classes learn just such skills, she said.
“Those are the types of programs that we need to expand out and make sure everybody is able to take advantage of,” said Neininger.
Statewide barriers to employment also include drug dependence and inadequate math skills. Regional employment trends in these areas generally mirror the state trends, Neininger said. However, she added the problems don’t appear as large now as they used to be.
Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151.