By Brett Wallace, Chronicle-Tribune
Data released Tuesday shows a national economy that continues to weaken - the number of unemployed people in the country jumped by almost a million in the month of December.

The unemployment percentage for Grant County was up to 9.8 percent last month, increasing from 8.3 percent in November.

But despite the increase in the percentage, the county's rank in the state of Indiana fell from 15th to 19th on the list of highest unemployment rates among the 92 counties.

Tim Eckerle said one of the hallmarks of this recession has been its impact on every sector of the economy.

"It's hard to find a company in Grant County that's not warding off layoffs," said Eckerle, executive director of the Grant County Economic Growth Council. "There's not a segment in this country that hasn't been affected."

In his view, the county is lucky to have employers that are now hiring a substantial number of people, such as TriEnda, which begins production today, and Meijer, which Eckerle said should start hiring locally in February.

"Unlike some other locations, I think we can think about good things on the horizon," he said.

Unemployment for the city of Marion jumped from 9.5 percent to 11.3 percent in December.

Mayor Wayne Seybold said the city will continue to keep doing what it has been doing - encouraging economic development and recruiting new employers to come to the area.

"Marion, compared to a lot of other places, is still holding our own," Seybold said.

Seybold has said the unemployment rate in Grant County is reflective of the employment situation at General Motors. That trend was evident in December, he said.

"I don't want to say it's something we're not concerned about, but we don't live or die with the unemployment numbers," he said. "It's a good measure, but it's not the true reflection."

In Indiana, the rate rose from 6.9 percent to 8.1 percent in December.

Marc Lotter, spokesman for the state's Department of Workforce Development, said the rise of unemployment in the state is a reflection of what's happening in the national economy.

"We're facing a global economic slowdown," Lotter said. "It's having an effect on many companies and individuals."

Nationally, the rate of unemployment jumped from 6.8 percent to 7.2 percent.

Indiana and South Carolina both recorded percentage increases of 1.1, leading the nation.

Overall, Michigan still had the highest unemployment rate in the nation - 10.6 percent in December.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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