GOSHEN — The unemployment rate in Elkhart County fell to 5 percent last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.
The unemployment rate for the county was down 0.8 percent in April from 5.8 percent in March. The drop in the unemployment rate was not tied to just Elkhart County either.
The unemployment rate in Kosciusko County was 4.1 percent in April, down from 5 percent in March and in LaGrange County the rate fell to 4.3 percent for April, down from 5 percent in March. Noble County saw a drop from 5.9 percent in March to 5 percent last month.
Jerrell Richer, economics professor at Goshen College, said the falling rates are a good indicator that the economy is rebounding from the Great Recession and that there is a strong market for employees and job-seekers.
“Those are incredible," he said of the latest numbers. "Those are very low, and that’s a big drop from month to month."
Richer said the statistics could be misleading because of the nature of survey that the Bureau of Labor Statistics gets by dividing the number of people unemployed by the number of people in the labor force. However he said they do not count those people who have stopped seeking work, what the bureau calls “discouraged workers.”
“If you included the discouraged workers it could be a couple percentage points higher,” he said.
However, Richer said that as discouraged workers hear about hiring and a shortage of workers, those numbers will drop as well.
Despite low numbers of unemployment, Richer said he was hesitant to say that the area was close to what economists call “full employment,” when the maximum number of people possible are employed.
“When I went to graduate school they talked about 5 percent as being full employment," he said. "But more recently the percentage rate has dropped some,” he said.