Jobless Rates Increase Statewide

April 4, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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LANSING — The Michigan Department of Career Development announced last week that January seasonally adjusted unemployment rates have increased in all 12 of Michigan’s major labor market areas, giving the state a 7.2 percent jobless rate.

The Ann Arbor/Washtenaw County rate ranked best of Michigan’s 83 counties, posting a 2.9 percent unemployment rate. Ottawa County posted a rank of 12 with a 6.1 percent jobless rate, Kent County ranked 25th with a 7.1 percent rate, and Muskegon ranked No. 61 with a 10.6 percent jobless rate, giving the Grand Rapids Market Statistical Area a 7.4 percent jobless rate overall. Unemployment was recorded at its worst in Mackinac County, with a 20.8 percent jobless rate.

Increases in the jobless rates for the 12 areas over the month were significant and ranged from 0.8 to 3.0 percentage points with the average advance more than one percentage point. The monthly survey of employers indicated that seasonally unadjusted payroll jobs in Michigan fell in January by 128,000 to total 4,371,000. Declines were recorded in all major industry sectors.

“The unemployment rate increases in Michigan’s major labor market areas were typical for January,” said John Palmer, deputy director for workforce programs, MDCD. “Seasonal employment cutbacks in construction, retail trade and services were registered statewide.”

The Northeast Lower Michigan region, the Flint Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the Upper Peninsula (UP), the Saginaw-Bay-Midland MSA and the Northwest Lower Michigan region all recorded substantial unemployment rate hikes of at least 1.9 percentage points in January.

Seasonal job cuts occurred in retail trade, losing 35,000; in government, where it lost 24,000; in construction, which lost 16,000; in professional and business services, losing 15,000; and in hospitality services, which saw a drop by 10,000.

These seasonal job declines occurred in every major metropolitan area in the state. The employment reduction in retail trade reflected part-time, holiday-related job cuts.

In January, manufacturing employment decreased by 10,000 or 1.4 percent, with the majority of job loss occurring in transportation equipment. The Flint MSA recorded the largest percentage decline in manufacturing jobs.

All of Michigan’s 83 counties recorded seasonal unemployment rate increases in January. Almost half of the county rate advances were two full percentage points or more. In January, 32 counties reported jobless rates of 10 percent or higher.

Over the year, unemployment rates were down in 49 of Michigan’s counties. Twenty-six counties reported a small rate increase since January 2002, while the rates in eight counties remained unchanged.

However, these numbers may need to be taken into consideration in a different context. The 2002 estimates were recently revised, in an annual process mandated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and conducted by all states in cooperation with the BLS.

This year’s revision involved several steps including updating data inputs such as unemployment insurance claims and industry job counts. In addition, the sum of all county employment and unemployment estimates is adjusted to equal recently revised statewide totals. As a result of these revisions, December 2002 and January 2003 sub-state labor force estimates are not fully comparable.

January 2003 also marked the introduction by the BLS of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). This system will allow, for the first time, direct comparisons of economic data in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Monthly industry employment statistics for Michigan and its metropolitan areas will now be reported using this system.

The NAICS categories recognize many new industries in the economy, primarily in the fast-growth service sector, through new categories such as information, professional and business services and education and health services.

Industry employment estimates for non-metropolitan areas will not be published monthly; instead they will be available quarterly, with a lag of about six months.

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