Berrien Manufacturing Jobs Lead the Way to Improved Employment Picture

Even the State of Michigan as a whole couldn’t match the improved employment picture that developed in Michigan’s Great Southwest during November according to the latest updates provided this week by Michigan’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Stratetic Initiatives. Manufacturing gains over the past year in Berrien County outpaced all other job sectors during that time frame as is shown in the report below.

Economic Specialist Leonidas Murembya says, “Employment improved in November, while unemployment edged down, resulting in unemployment rate reductions throughout Southwest Michigan.” He adds, “Typical seasonal hiring in Retail trade and job cuts in Leisure and hospitality and in Construction and mining were recorded.”

Murembya makes a note of the fact that all four regional metro areas in Southwest Michigan recorded unemployment rates that were below or equal to the Michigan unadjusted rate of 3.2-percent.

In November, typical seasonal employment changes were recorded across the region. Businesses in Leisure and hospitality services and in Construction and mining continued to cut jobs, while hiring picked up in Retail trade with the holiday shopping season.

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Unemployment rates in all areas declined or remained unchanged.

At 2.8-percent, the unemployment rate in Kalamazoo-Portage was fourth lowest among Michigan’s 14 metro areas, right after Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids-Wyoming, and Lansing-East Lansing. Since November of 2018, local metro areas’ jobless rates inched down by no more than three tenths of a percentage point.

Jobless rates also decreased or remained unchanged in regional non-metro counties. Noticeable unemployment rate reductions were seen in Hillsdale and St. Joseph Counties (-1.3 percentage points), and in Lenawee (-1.6 percentage points). Since November of 2018, jobless rates in regional non-metro counties were stable, inching up or down by no more than four tenths of a percentage point.

Employment improvements were recorded in all four regional metro areas including our own in Berrien County:

  • Niles-Benton Harbor (1-percent or +700)
  • Jackson (2.3-percent or +1,600)
  • Battle Creek (1.8-percent or +1,100)
  • Kalamazoo-Portage (1.2-percent or +1,900)

Unemployment edged down in Battle Creek (-200), Jackson (-200), and Kalamazoo (-400), while remaining unchanged in the local Niles-Benton Harbor MSA.

Over the past year, employment was up in Niles-Benton Harbor (+1,100), Jackson (+500), and Kalamazoo-Portage (+1,500). Unemployment levels were virtually flat year to year.

November employment levels also rose in all regional non-metro counties, ranging from +225 (or 0.4-percent) in Allegan to +1,275 (or 2.9-percent) in Lenawee County. Substantial job additions were also seen in St. Joseph County (+625 or 2.4-percent).

Unemployment was down in November in all regional non-metro counties, extending from -25 in Allegan to -725 in Lenawee.

Since November of 2018, employment continued to rise in almost all non-metro areas but St. Joseph County (-200), and jobless rates were stable.

NILES-BENTON HARBOR METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREA

The Niles-Benton Harbor MSA lost seasonal jobs in November in Leisure and hospitality (-400) and in Construction and mining (-100). However, employment in Government rose by 200, and a 100-job addition each was seen in Manufacturing, Retail trade, and private Educational and health services.

Total nonfarm payroll jobs in the Niles-Benton Harbor MSA inched down 100 in November to a total of 63,600.

Over the year, jobs in the Niles-Benton Harbor metro area continued to improve (+1.8-percent, or 1,100).

Employment in most major industry sectors improved or remained unchanged, with the exception of Trade, transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-100).

Manufacturing added 400 positions since November of 2018. Government employment improved by 300, and jobs in private Educational and health services advanced by 200.

November nonfarm payroll jobs in the Niles-Benton Harbor area steadily expanded by 3,800 (+6.4-percent) between 2010 and 2019.

KALAMAZOO-PORTAGE METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREA

The Kalamazoo-Portage MSA recorded seasonal job cuts in November in Leisure and hospitality (-600) and in Construction and mining (-300). Manufacturing employment also decreased by 200. However, the area continued to register education-related employment gains in State and local government (+500). Professional and business also saw job improvement in November (+200). Overall payroll jobs in the Kalamazoo-Portage MSA inched down 300 to a total of 152,600 in November.

Since November of 2018, nonfarm payroll employment in the Kalamazoo-Portage MSA inched up by 0.4-percent (+600). A 200-job improvement each was recorded in Construction and mining, private Educational and health services, Leisure and hospitality, and in Government. However, jobs in Retail trade dropped by 400 over the year in November.

Nonfarm payroll employment in the KalamazooPortage advanced steadily over the past decade (2010-2019), adding 15,000 jobs to the area’s workforce; an expansion rate of 10.9-percent.

BATTLE CREEK METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREA

In November, seasonal job cuts were recorded in the Battle Creek MSA in Leisure and hospitality (-200) and in Construction and mining (-100). At the same time, hiring in Retail trade picked up (+200). A 100- employment improvement each was also seen in private Educational and health services, Government, and Manufacturing. Payroll employment in November in the Battle Creek MSA rose by 0.5-percent (+300) to a total of 58,700.

Over the past year, jobs in the Battle Creek MSA were down by 0.7-percent (-400). A 200-employment reduction each was registered in private Educational and health services and in Government.

November payroll jobs in the Battle Creek MSA steadily increased between 2010 and 2016 to peak at 60,100; a growth rate of 8.7-percent (+4,000) over the period. Jobs have stabilized at around 59,000 since then.

JACKSON METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREA

The Jackson metro area recorded a gain of 200 jobs each in Professional and business services and in Retail trade in November. However, Leisure and hospitality cut 100 seasonal positions. Nonfarm payroll employment in the Jackson metro area rose in November by 0.7-percent (+400) to a total of 59,200.

Since November 2018, payroll employment in the Jackson MSA remained unchanged. Job additions in Trade, transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+600) and in Leisure and hospitality (+100) were offset by employment cuts in Government (-300), private Educational and health services (-200), and Manufacturing (-200).

November payroll employment in the Jackson metro area improved most years between 2010 and 2017.

Area jobs climbed by 300 in 2018 to a total of 59,200 and have remained at that level in November of the current year. All in all, payroll employment in Jackson rose by 9.4-percent (+5,100) between November 2010 and 2019.