Steady 2019 Labor Market Ends With Slightly Lower Unemployment in December

Thanks to a solid finish for the calendar year in December, Michigan’s annual jobless rate moved down for the 10th straight year, while payroll employment rose for the ninth consecutive year, leaving the state with a steady labor market for all of 2019 as the sun was setting on the year.

That’s the latest assessment from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget today as they report that Michigan’s unemployment rate was down slightly in December.

The new markers show Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate inched down by a tenth of a percentage point to 3.9-percent in December. Total employment advanced by 6,000 over the month, while unemployment fell by the same number, resulting in no change in the state’s workforce total over the month.

The Michigan jobless rate in December was a tenth of a percentage point below the December 2018 rate of 4.0-percent. The U.S. jobless rate fell by four-tenths of a percentage point during the same period. Michigan’s December unemployment rate was four-tenths above the national rate of 3.5-percent.

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Jason Palmer is Director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives. He says, “Michigan’s labor market was steady in 2019,” and backs that up by saying, “The state’s annual jobless rate moved down for the 10th straight year, while payroll employment rose for the ninth consecutive year.”

These are among Palmer’s report on monthly labor force trends and highlights:

  • Total employment rose for the third consecutive month in December. Employment was at its highest level since October 2001.
  • The number of unemployed residents fell by 6,000 over the month, or 3.0-percent, a larger decline than the 1.0-percent reduction in the U.S.
  • Michigan’s fourth quarter 2019 employment level expanded by 8,000.
  • Between the third and fourth quarter of 2019, the state’s unemployment rate fell by two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.0-percent.

Michigan’s preliminary annual average unemployment rate in 2019 was 4.0-percent, a rate three-tenths of a percentage point higher than the national annual rate of 3.7-percent. Total employment in Michigan averaged 4,754,000 in 2019, while total unemployment averaged 200,000. The state’s annual workforce level was 4,953,000 in 2019.

Among the annual average trends and highlights are these:

  • Michigan’s preliminary 2019 annual average unemployment rate edged down by a tenth of a percentage point over the year.
  • 2019 marked the 10th consecutive year of annual jobless rate reductions in Michigan. The state’s rate fell by 9.7-percentage points since the height of the recession in 2009, with an annual average rate of 13.7-percent.
  • Michigan’s 2019 annual jobless rate was the lowest recorded since the year 2000, with a jobless rate of 3.6-percent.
  • Annual average employment in the state rose by 55,000, or 1.2-percent, over the year, while the state’s annual average number of unemployed decreased slightly by 3,000, or 1.5-percent.
  • Michigan’s annual average workforce total in 2019 of 4,953,000 was the highest level seen in the state since 2007 (5,011,000).

According to the monthly survey of employers, seasonally adjusted Michigan payroll jobs rose by 5,000 in December to 4,452,000. Most industries recorded minor job gains or were stable. The largest over-the-month industry movements were seen in trade, transportation and utilities (+4,000) and professional and business services (-3,000).

Michigan’s industry employment trends and highlights include these:

  • In 2019, Michigan payroll jobs advanced in seven of the 12 months.
  • For the second consecutive month, Michigan’s manufacturing industry added jobs, rising by 2,000 in December.
  • Construction recorded the largest over-the-year percentage job decline, edging down by one percent since December 2018.
  • Average weekly earnings in transportation equipment manufacturing increased both over the month and over the year.
  • Michigan recorded payroll job gains for the ninth consecutive year in 2019.