Ordinary September Sees Unemployment Rate Declines Statewide

Nothing remarkably out of the ordinary in the latest unemployment data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, which shows that September unemployment rates declined in every labor market in the state.

Seasonally unadjusted jobless rates in September decreased in all 17 of Michigan’s major labor market areas, with employment levels and unemployment both down over the month across most Michigan regions.

Jason Palmer is Director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives. He tells us, “The state’s regional labor markets reported expected movements in September, including seasonal labor force declines,” and points out, “September’s payroll employment gains largely reflected seasonal recalls in education-related industries and marked the beginning of the academic year.”

In the month of September, regional unemployment rates ranged from 2.8- to 4.4-percent. Jobless rate declines ranged from 0.3- to 0.9-percentage points, with a median decline of six-tenths of a percentage point. The largest over-the-month rate reduction was recorded in the Upper Peninsula (-0.9-percent). Michigan’s jobless rate in September, not seasonally adjusted, was 3.7-percent, four-tenths above the national rate of 3.3-percent. Berrien County’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.2-percent in August to 3.5-percent in September, two-tenths better than the state’s average but two tenths higher than the national.

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Since September 2018, unemployment rates rose in 15 Michigan labor market areas. Rate increases ranged from 0.1- to 0.4-percentage points. The largest over-the-year rate increases were recorded in the Battle Creek, Bay City, and Upper Peninsula regions, at 0.4-percentage points each. Monroe was the only region to exhibit a jobless rate decline over the year (-0.2-percentage points), while Berrien County — the Niles-Benton Harbor region — remained unchanged since September 2018.

Since August, total employment fell in 13 regions and advanced in four. Employment declines ranged from 0.1- to 4.8-percent, with a median drop of 1.3-percent. The largest over-the-month reduction occurred in the Northwest Lower Michigan region (-4.8-percent). The Lansing metropolitan statistical area (MSA) exhibited the largest over-the-month increase in employment, advancing by 1.9-percent since August.

Over the year, total employment grew in 13 regions, led by the Niles-Benton Harbor MSA, which is all of Berrien County which saw a 1.6-percent increase. Employment fell in four Michigan labor market areas over the year. The Bay City MSA demonstrated the largest decline in employment since September 2018, edging down by 0.6-percent over the year.

Labor force levels receded in 15 regions in September. Declines ranged from 0.1- to 5.1-percent, with a median reduction of 1.8-percent. The Northwest Lower Michigan region exhibited the largest decline in workforce (-5.1-percent). The Ann Arbor and Lansing metro regions were the only labor market areas with labor force advances over the month, increasing by 0.1- and 1.5-percent, respectively.

Fourteen Michigan regions demonstrated labor force hikes over the year, led by the Detroit MSA (+1.8-percent). The Bay City (-0.2-percent) and Monroe (-0.4-percent) regions demonstrated workforce reductions since September 2018, while the Midland labor force remained unchanged over the year.

The monthly survey of employers indicated that unadjusted payroll jobs in Michigan edged up by 22,000, or 0.5-percent, in September to 4,467,000. Noteworthy industry advances in government (+8.7-percent) and education and health services (+1.1-percent) were partially offset by declines in most other major industry sectors.

Payroll employment advanced in 13 of Michigan’s 14 metropolitan regions in September, led on a percentage basis by the Lansing MSA (+3.9-percent). Muskegon was the only area to demonstrate a decline in nonfarm jobs over the month, edging down by 0.6-percent since August.

Since September 2018, Michigan’s seasonally unadjusted employment rose by 22,000, or 0.5-percent. Seven regions demonstrated job advances over this period, while five regions exhibited job declines. The Detroit, Jackson, and Saginaw metro regions all exhibited no change in payroll employment over the year.

All 83 Michigan counties reported jobless rate declines in September, with a median reduction of six-tenths of a percentage point. Over the year, unemployment rates advanced in 76 counties, declined in three, and remained unchanged in four.

A large auto industry labor dispute, the UAW strike against GM, began on Monday, September 16th. Labor statistics published for the month of September 2019 reflect the employment status of workers for the week of September 8th  through 14th, therefore, the labor dispute began after the September survey week and had no measurable impact on September employment data.

The impact of the strike on layoffs and jobs will be seen in data published for October 2019. The state unemployment rate and payroll job counts for October 2019 will be published on Wednesday, November 13th.

This data is not seasonally adjusted. As a result, employment and unemployment trends may differ from previously released Michigan seasonally adjusted data.