Unemployment rates rose in 98% of U.S. metropolitan areas late last year, with manufacturing layoffs driving the largest annual increases in Indiana’s Elkhart-Goshen region and Dalton, Ga. The Labor Department said today that jobless rates climbed in 363 of the largest 369 metropolitan areas in December from a year earlier. The rate in Baton Rouge went from 3.7% in December 2007, to 5.3% a year later. Despite the bump, officials with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber noted that the local unemployment rate is still below the state average of 5.5% and the national average of 7.1%.
Elkhart-Goshen’s unemployment rate soared to 15.3% in December, up a whopping 10.6 percentage points from December 2007. The area has been bruised by layoffs in the recreational vehicle industry. Hundreds of workers have lost their jobs at RV makers such as Monaco Coach Corp., Keystone RV Co. and Pilgrim International.
The jobless rate in Dalton, home to many floor-covering manufacturers, jumped to 11.2%, up 6.2 percentage points from a year earlier.