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Michigan regional unemployment rates mostly down in April

Seventy-seven of Michigan’s 83 counties recorded rate reductions in April, led by Mackinac County with -2.1 percentage points.
Jobs in Michigan.
Jobs in Michigan.(WLUC)
Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 2:56 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Not seasonally adjusted unemployment rates decreased in 15 of Michigan’s 17 major labor market areas during April, according to data released Thursday from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

“Jobless rates in Michigan regions have dropped very sharply since April 2020, which was the peak of COVID-19 pandemic layoffs,” said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Despite these improvements, jobless rates still remain above April 2019 levels.”

Regional unemployment rate decreases ranged from 0.3 to 0.9 percentage points, with a median rate cut of 0.6 percentage points. Both the Northeast and Northwest Lower Michigan regions exhibited the largest jobless rate drops of 0.9 percentage points.

The Monroe and Lansing metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) were the only two major Michigan regions with jobless rate advances over the month, primarily due to auto-related layoffs during April.

Regional unemployment rates fall dramatically since April 2020

April 2020 was the peak month for pandemic-related layoffs in Michigan, so regional unemployment rates in the state were down substantially in all 17 Michigan major labor markets over the past year. Rates plunged by a median 18.2 percentage points over this period. The largest over-the-year jobless rate drop occurred in the Flint MSA (-24.1 percentage points).

Despite these substantial over-the-year rate declines, 15 Michigan regions recorded jobless rate increases since April 2019, with a median advance of 1.6 percentage points. Rate hikes were led by the Muskegon metro area (+3.1 percentage points).

The Detroit MSA and the Upper Peninsula were the only two labor market areas with jobless rate reductions since April 2019.

Total employment down over month, up over year

Employment levels receded in 11 Michigan regions over the month, with a median decrease of 0.3 percent. The largest over-the-month decline occurred in the Lansing MSA (-1.2 percent), reflecting layoffs in the auto sector. Four labor market areas exhibited employment increases over the month, including the Flint, Niles, and Midland MSAs and the Northwest Lower Michigan region. The Jackson metro area and the Northeast Lower Michigan region exhibited no change in employment over the month.

All Michigan major labor markets had sharp employment gains since the lows recorded in April 2020, with a substantial median over-the-year advance of 23.7 percent. The largest increase occurred in the Northwest Lower Michigan region, with employment rising by 35.9 percent since April 2020.

Despite substantial over-the-year employment increases, April 2021 regional employment levels remained well below April 2019 employment totals in all 17 regions, with a median decrease of 6.2 percent.

Labor force levels down over month, up over year

Regional workforce levels moved down in 15 major Michigan areas in April, with a median decline of 0.7 percent.

The largest labor force reduction occurred in the Muskegon metro area (-1.3 percent).

Labor force levels advanced in 13 labor market areas over the year, led by the Ann Arbor region with a gain of 4.6 percent. Workforce levels fell in the Muskegon, Monroe, Jackson, and Battle Creek regions since April 2020.

Payroll jobs advance slightly in April

The monthly survey of employers indicated that not seasonally adjusted Michigan nonfarm jobs inched up by 5,000, or 0.1 percent, to 4,095,000. Minor employment increases were seen in most major statewide sectors. One notable exception was the manufacturing industry, where jobs fell by 11,000 over the month, due to auto layoffs related to a nationwide semiconductor chip shortage.

Payroll employment rose in 9 metro areas in April, but job gains were minor with a median increase of just 0.4 percent. The Midland metro area had the largest over-the-month advance (+1.7 percent) for the second consecutive month. Five regions had payroll job cuts in April, led by the Lansing and Muskegon metro areas with declines of 0.9 and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Payroll employment in the state advanced by 718,000 over the year, or 21.3 percent, which reflected the recalls that have occurred since the April 2020 pandemic-related job lows. All 14 metro areas had nonfarm job additions over the year, led by the Flint MSA (+30.0 percent). Statewide payroll jobs remained 326,000, or 7.4 percent, below April 2019 levels.

County jobless rates down over month and year

Seventy-seven Michigan counties recorded rate reductions in April, led by Mackinac County (-2.1 percentage points). Over the year, all 83 counties exhibited unemployment rate declines. Since April 2019, 66 Michigan counties had jobless rate increases, led by Muskegon County (+3.1 percentage points).

For more detailed information, including data tables, view the full release.

Note: Data in this release is not seasonally adjusted. As a result, employment and unemployment trends may differ from previously released Michigan seasonally adjusted data. A breakdown of not seasonally adjusted April workforce estimates for Michigan and its 17 major labor market areas, along with a ranking of county jobless rates for April.

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