Labor market conditions in the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)--which consists of Allen, Whitley and Wells counties--have continued steadily improving over the past six years. The number employed in the Fort Wayne MSA displays a clear upward trend from 2010 through September 2016. The latest data show that the number of employed in the Fort Wayne MSA in September 2016 stood at 210,437, compared to its pre-recession level of 204,866 in September 2006--the last "normal" year prior to the Great Recession (December 2007 to June 2009). Employment numbers clearly show a labor market that has recovered to its pre-recession levels (see Figure 1).
Table 1 shows the top five sectors that contributed to the surge in employment in the Fort Wayne MSA since 2010. Employment in the services sector increased by 19 percent, while leisure and hospitality grew by 13 percent. Education and health care, as well as manufacturing, have had employment growth of 11 percent. Meanwhile, construction experienced a 9 percent employment growth. The four largest sectors in employment all experienced double-digit employment growth.
Comparing changes in employment in the Fort Wayne MSA relative to Indiana and the United States, we observe that the recession hit Indiana and the Fort Wayne MSA much harder than it did the nation as a whole. Postrecession, employment recovery in the Fort Wayne MSA proceeded in tandem with that of Indiana and the United States; however, the pace of recovery has been slower in the Fort Wayne MSA (see Figure 2).
While employment was back to its pre-recession levels by 2013 for the U.S., it took an additional year for Indiana to bounce back and two more years after that for the Fort Wayne MSA to catch up to its pre-recession employment levels. The data, however, do contain good news for the Fort Wayne MSA because it shows a surge in employment since 2014 (as seen in Figure 2).
Unemployment in the Fort Wayne MSA climbed to 10.7 percent in 2009--a rate that was more than double its pre-recession level of 5 percent in 2006. Similarly, between 2006 and 2010, the number of unemployed more than doubled from 10,673 to 22,234. Since 2010, however, both the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate have declined systematically. The average unemployment rate for 2016 (using January through September monthly data) is 4.3 percent. This rate is 0.2 percent below the 4.5 percent for 2015, reinforcing an optimistic...