Jobless rates dip seasonally in all markets

September 28, 2009
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Seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates decreased over the month in all of Michigan’s 17 major labor market areas, according to the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth.  Although jobless rates declined in August, total employment also fell in the majority of regions, while labor force levels were reduced in all areas.

Unemployment rates generally fall throughout Michigan in August due to a seasonal reduction in the number of unemployed seeking summer jobs, and this year was no exception. However, August employment levels remained weak, declining in most regions.

In the Grand Rapids-Wyoming Metropolitan Statistical Area (Barry, Ionia, Kent and Newaygo counties), the August unemployment rate was 12 percent, down from 12.7 percent in July but up from 7.5 percent in August 2008. A total of 47,000 people were reported out of work in August, versus 50,300 in July.

From July to August, the unemployment rate reductions in the 17 regions ranged from 0.6 to 2.1 percentage points with a median decline of 0.8 of a percentage point. The largest over-the-month drops were reported in the Monroe (-2.1) and Saginaw-Saginaw Township North (-1.5) MSAs. Seven areas registered rate decreases greater than a full percentage point.  In August, 16 of the 17 regions posted jobless rates above 10.0 percent.

From August 2008 to August 2009, jobless rates were up significantly in all 17 regions.  Rate increases ranged from 3.0 to 7.9 percentage points with a median advance of 4.6 percentage points. The largest over-the-year rate hikes were recorded in the Detroit-Warren-Livonia and Muskegon-Norton Shores MSAs. These were the only two major regions to post over-the-year jobless rate increases greater than the seasonally unadjusted statewide advance of 6.1 percentage points. The smallest over-the-year rate hikes were registered in the Ann Arbor MSA (+3.0 percentage points) along with the Upper Peninsula (+4.1 percentage points).

Over the month, total employment declined in 11 of the state’s major regions. August employment drops ranged from 0.1 to 2.3 percent; however the average decrease was a moderate half percent.  The most pronounced reductions occurred in the Flint and Lansing-East Lansing MSAs along with the Northwest Lower Michigan Region.  Four areas displayed minor employment gains in August, while employment was essentially unchanged in both the Bay City and Holland-Grand Haven MSAs.

Since August 2008, total employment fell considerably in all 17 regions with an average drop of nearly 8.0 percent.  The smallest over-the-year declines took place in the state’s three northernmost labor market regions. From August 2008 to August 2009, employment was down in the Upper Peninsula by 5.2 percent, while employment decreased in the Northwest Lower Michigan and the Northeast Lower Michigan regions by 5.9 and 6.2 percent, respectively.

From August 2008 to August 2009, unemployment rates were up in all 83 counties, with a substantial median increase of around 5.0 percentage points.

Rick Waclawek is director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives within the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth.

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