Unemployment high in local counties

Halloween isn't the only scary thing associated with October.

Unemployment statistics for that month show that four local counties made a list of the top ten with the worst unemployment rates in Indiana.

Elkhart County placed number one on that list with an unemployment rate of 10.7-percent

LaGrange County ranked second at 10.4-percent.

Marshall County came in sixth with an unemployment rate of 8.2-percent. Starke County place ninth on the list with an unemployment rate of 7.7-percent.

Perhaps since Elkhart County is considered to be the RV capital of the world, its presence on the list would be expected.

What some may find surprising are some of the other local counties that made the list.

At the Bookworm bookstore in Plymouth, they’re well aware of who is on the top ten best book seller’s list, but they had no clue that Marshall County made the top ten list of Indiana counties with the worst unemployment rates.

“It’s surprising to me actually,” said Shannon Emigh, co-owner of the Bookworm. “I mean I don’t know anyone personally who has been laid off or any plants closing in Plymouth.”

Today, at the unemployment office in Plymouth there was a line and Melissa Bradley was in it. “I worked at Medallion [Cabinetry] and two weeks ago, I got laid off.”

That layoff at Medallion of 37 workers is said to be the largest to take place in Marshall County this year. Furthermore, the community has yet to see any local plant closings.

What Marshall County has seen is many of its residents get caught up in the economic slowdown to the East. “My whole family just about, my mom, my dad, my brother, my dad’s girlfriend — they all worked at Monaco Coach for some 20, almost 30 years,” said Bradley.

In other words, much of Melissa’s family lives in Marshall County, but actually lost jobs in Elkhart County’s RV industry.

“On a daily basis about 2,500 people travel from Marshall County to work in Elkhart County,” said Doug Anspach with the Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce. “And the downturn in the RV industry has had a dramatic effect on us. Most people really don’t understand how totally integrated this economy is.”

If the list is expanded to include the top twenty Indiana counties with the worst unemployment rates, Kosciusko and St. Joseph counties show up at numbers 12 and 16 respectively.

In LaPorte County, the rate was six-percent in October, good enough to put LaPorte County at number 40 on the list.

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