Editor’s note: This is the first in a five-part series of a joint project by The News-Sentinel and WANE, Channel 15. Each Monday we will look at topics facing the area and its impact on residents.
The bad news comes a month late. When the state released January unemployment figures last week, they showed that Allen County’s jobless rate is now 9.5 percent – and the figures are much worse in other northeast Indiana counties. Will February’s numbers be worse? How long until a turnaround begins?
No one knows, no matter how bold some predictions sound. But it’s been 75 years since the federal government intervened so heavily in an economic downturn.
People who are out of work receive additional help, from an extra $100 a month in unemployment payments to a subsidy for health insurance.
Ben Hoffman, 28, would prefer a job to a small increment of additional help from the government.
Through seven months, 315 job applications and only a handful of job interviews, Hoffman has been unemployed. He was a commercial aircraft pilot in July, when $140-a-barrel oil sent aviation companies scrambling to cut costs. Hoffman, who had been a pilot with St. Louis-based Trans State Airlines for a few months, was one of those costs that got cut.
Within a week, he had packed his belongings and relocated back home to northern Allen County. He moved in with his parents to save money while he looked for a job.
He’s still looking.
“My day basically consists of going to every single Web site you can imagine and applying for just about every position you can imagine,” he said. Even a phone call is a rare nibble from his applications. When he does hear a reason why he’s not in the running for a position, it is most often “overqualified.”
While he’s flown for a living for the past several years, he has an array of experience in other fields, from sales to construction, from painting to vehicle repair. None of it is connecting in the job market.
David Dilts, professor of economics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, doesn’t see much encouragement in leading economic indicators.
“We’re probably not talking about recovery in 2009,” he said. “I’m hoping for the first quarter of 2010.”
There’s bound to be a lot of pain from this recession, he said. It’s likely to reshape the economy and American industry in dramatic ways.
“The good news is, we’ve been through this before, and we’ve always gotten
through them,” Dilts said, citing the long-lasting depressions of the 1870s and the 1930s.
Allen County unemployment
2008 January 5.5 percent February 5.2 percent March 6.4 percent April 4.9 percent May 5.0 percent June 5.7 percent July 6.4 percent August 6.3 percent September 5.7 percent October 5.9 percent November 6.8 percent December 8.1 percent 2009 January 9.5 percent Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development