Unemployment Rates Fall In Ever Michigan Labor Market in April

Even though it is already considered one of the tightest labor times in recent history, the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates last month -- April 2019 -- fell in every Michigan regional labor market including Michigan's Great Southwest according to the latest data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

Even as unemployment fell again, the rate of total employment rose in most regions while the direction of labor force change was mixed over the month.

Jason Palmer is Director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives. He tells us, “Michigan’s regional labor market areas exhibited typical seasonal movement for April,” adding, “Payrolls rose throughout the state as seasonal industries, such as construction, building services (including landscaping services), and recreation all added jobs in April.”

April regional jobless rate declines registered a median drop of nine-tenths of a percentage point and ranged from -0.5 to -2.1 percentage points. Berrien County saw the unemployment rate drop from 4.5-percent a year ago to 3.6-percent in April, also down from 4.5-percent in the previous month of March 2019. The Northeast Lower Michigan Region had the largest rate drop, decreasing by 2.1-percentage points to 6.7-percent. The Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro areas recorded the lowest unemployment rates (2.5-percent) among major Michigan labor markets in April.

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Unemployment Rates Down Over Year

Since April 2018, unemployment rates fell in 15 regions and increased in two (the Monroe and Detroit MSAs). Rate cuts over this period ranged from 0.1 to 0.7-percentage points. The Northeast Lower Michigan Region exhibited the largest over-the-year rate reduction of seven-tenths of a percentage point.

Total Employment Up Over Month and Year

During April, total employment rose in fifteen regions, declined in the Detroit MSA, and remained unchanged in the Upper Peninsula region. Employment increases ranged from 0.3 to 1.9-percent with a median advance of 1.1-percent. The most pronounced over-the-month percent employment gain occurred in Berrien County (the Niles-Benton Harbor MSA) where total employment numbers increased to 71,300 individuals, up 1.9-percent from March.

Over the year, total employment rose in 16 labor market areas, with increases ranging from 0.4 to 2.4-percent. The Northwest Lower Michigan Region exhibited the largest percent employment advance since April 2018. The Midland MSA was the only region to demonstrate a small decline in employment over the year.

Labor Force Levels Mainly Up in April

Michigan workforce levels in April rose in 10 regions. Labor force advances were modest, ranging from 0.1 to 1.0 percent with a median increase of 0.3-percent. Notable gains occurred in Berrien County, (the Niles-Benton Harbor MSA) where the gain was 1.0-percent, and Lansing (+0.7-percent). Six regions registered labor force declines over the month, led by the Northeast Lower Michigan Region (-1.2-percent). The Grand Rapids-Wyoming MSA's workforce remained unchanged in April.

Fifteen Michigan regions had higher labor force levels since April 2018. Workforce increases ranged from 0.4 to 1.9-percent with a solid median advancement of 1.2-percent. The Midland MSA was the only region to exhibit a workforce decrease over the year (-0.7-percent). The labor force level in the Bay City MSA remained unchanged.

April Payroll Jobs Up Over Month and Year

The monthly survey of employers indicated that seasonally unadjusted payroll jobs in Michigan rose by 28,000 or 0.6-percent in April to 4,427,000. Employment gains were seen in most broad sectors and were led on a percentage basis by seasonal industries such as mining, logging and construction (+4.4-percent) and leisure and hospitality (+2.1-percent). The only payroll job decline of note occurred in manufacturing (-0.4-percent).

In April, nonfarm employment rose seasonally in all Michigan metro regions. Job advances ranged from 0.1 to 1.6 percent with the largest percentage additions in Berrien County at +1.6-percent  and Jackson (+1.4-percent).

Since April 2018, seasonally unadjusted jobs rose statewide by 35,000, or 0.8-percent. Ten Michigan regions advanced in employment over this period, led on a percentage basis by Flint (+1.8-percent) and Monroe (+1.7-percent). Nonfarm jobs fell in two regions over the year, and were essentially unchanged in the Battle Creek and Lansing metro regions.

County Jobless Rates Down Over Month and Year

Eighty of Michigan’s 83 counties demonstrated jobless rate declines in April while three counties had rate increases. Over the year, unemployment rates moved down in 71 counties, were up in nine, and remained unchanged in Branch, Keweenaw, and Oscoda counties.

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