Elkhart County unemployment rate plummets

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 5:41 PM EDT
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ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - The drop has been dramatic.

Elkhart’s unemployment rate topped 29% in April but the latest stats from August show it has been whittled down to 6.1%.

Today, employers held a drive-through job fair in a unique attempt to fill vacant positions.

“They come in through the entrance and then they pull in. They’re letting about two to three cars at a time and they’ll stop, and you know we’ll reach out to them at each station as they go,” said Maria Rocha with Heartland RV.

“We’re around 45 (employees) right now. We’d like to pick that up at least to 50,” said Diane Slis with STOUTCO Inc. in Bristol. "And that’s why we’re here today.

If we were able to get more than that we would not complain."

Linda from Elkhart was the first job seeker to run the drive through gauntlet.

“I think it’s a good idea because, especially right now during COVID, all the plants are locked down. You can’t just go in. You have to set up an appointment to go see somebody. It’s not the easiest thing to do," she said.

While unemployment continues to plummet in Elkhart County, St. Joseph County’s rate tops 8% and is tied for fourth highest in Indiana.

“It’s just a little bit too far. We start at 5:30 in the morning and so to come from St. Joe County in the winter on an icy road, you’d probably have to be walk out the door by 4:30, 4:45,” said Diane Slis.

While Stoutco does not currently have any St. Joseph County residents on staff, the latest stats (2017) show that 11,863 St. Joseph County residents do work in the Elkhart County economy.

An economy dominated by manufacturing where nearly a fifth of all workers (33,867) live somewhere else.

The St. Joseph County economy is heavy in service jobs in the hospitality and education sectors, which perhaps haven’t been as quick to rebound.

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