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Manufacturing jobs hit hard in new NE Indiana jobless claims

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ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - There is jolting news for northeast Indiana's manufacturing sector.

New jobless claims suggest that sector is getting hit hard under measures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The stay at home order put in force by Governor Eric Holcomb for all of Indiana is prompting many operations to shut down or cut back short-term.

But the impact on heavy industry is maybe more painful than experts might have expected.

Nearly 47 percent of first-time unemployment claims filed in an 11-county area of northeast Indiana for the period of March 15th through March 28th were tied to the manufacturing sector.

Around 80 percent of new claims filed specifically in LaGrange and Noble Counties were manufacturing related.

The fact that plants are cutting back is not a surprise.

"What was shocking to me was the sheer number of claims in manufacturing. To me, that's what's scary about this actually. It's because manufacturing is such a key industry for northeast Indiana," said Rachel Blakeman, Purdue Fort Wayne's Community Research Institute Director.

"And the wages (in manufacturing) tend to be higher than in many other industries. So, when you see that many people laid off or filing for unemployment, that's an eye opener," said Rick Farrant, the director of communications for Northeast Indiana Works.

The number of first-time unemployment claims for the 11-county area that includes Fort Wayne topped 27,200 for the past two weeks in March.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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