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February Michigan Jobless Rates Decline in All Labor Markets

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Not seasonally adjusted unemployment rates fell in all 17 of Michigan’s regional labor market areas during February 2021, according to data released from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB). “Labor force levels declined for the second consecutive month in most Michigan regions,” said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Payroll jobs rose in all Michigan metro areas in February, as significant recalls of workers occurred in the leisure and hospitality sector.”

Michigan regional jobless rates in February ranged from 4.2 to 8.6 percent. Rate decreases were from 0.6 to 1.6 percentage points with a median decline of one full percentage point. The Northeast Lower Michigan region demonstrated the most pronounced over-the-month rate cut. Locally, the Battle Creek and Niles-Benton Harbor metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) realized drops of 1.2 percentage points, while the Kalamazoo-Portage MSA fell 0.9 points. Jobless rates still remain higher since the start of the pandemic’s effects hit the economy in February 2020 in all 17 Michigan labor markets with a median gain of 2.2 percentage points.

Labor Markets in the Region

  • The Kalamazoo-Portage, MI MSA’s unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in February 2021 was 0.9 percentage points lower than the January 2021 rate of 6.3 percent. This is a 2.3 percentage point increase from a year ago in February 2020, when an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent was recorded. The Kalamazoo-Portage MSA’s unemployment rate is 1.2 percentage points below the national average of 6.6 percent, but it is 0.3 percentage points above the state of Michigan’s rate of 5.1 percent.The number of unemployed persons in the MSA dropped by 1,567 from January 2021 (10,294 unemployed persons) to February 2021 (8,727 unemployed persons). However, the region’s total civilian labor force contracted over the month by 1,711 persons, from 163,080 in January 2021 to 161,369 in February 2021. The total civilian labor force was 170,494 in February 2020.At the height of the unemployment effects due to COVID-19 in April 2020, the Kalamazoo-Portage MSA had an unemployment rate of 18.0 percent, with 28,322 unemployed persons and a total civilian labor force of 157,198. Over the course of ten months to February 2021, this MSA has seen a 12.6 percentage point reduction in unemployment rate, a reduction in number of unemployed persons by 19,595, and a 4,171 gain in total civilian labor force.
  • In February 2021, the Battle Creek, MI MSA posted an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent, which was 1.2 percentage points lower than its January 2021 rate of 7.7 percent. This is a 2.8 percentage point increase from February 2020, when an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was recorded. The Battle Creek MSA’s unemployment rate is 0.1 percentage points below the national average, but it is 1.4 percentage points above the state rate of 5.1 percent.The number of unemployed persons in this MSA dropped 801 from January 2021 (4,676 unemployed persons) to February 2021 (3,875 unemployed persons). However, the MSA’s total civilian labor force contracted over the month by 786 persons, from 60,702 in January 2021 to 59,916 in February 2021. The total civilian labor force was 62,071 in February 2020.At the height of the unemployment effects due to COVID-19 in April 2020, the Battle Creek MSA had an unemployment rate of 24.6 percent, with 14,884 unemployed persons and a total civilian labor force of 60,383. Over the course of ten months to February 2021, the MSA has seen an 18.1 percentage point reduction in unemployment rate, a reduction in number of unemployed persons by 11,009, and a loss of 467 in total civilian labor force.
  • The Niles-Benton Harbor, MI MSA’s unemployment rate of 6.0 percent for February 2021 was 1.2 percentage points lower than its January 2021 rate of 7.2 percent. This is a 2.2 percentage point increase from a year ago in February 2020, when the unemployment rate was recorded at 3.8 percent. The Niles-Benton Harbor MSA’s unemployment rate is 0.6 percentage points below the national average, but 0.6 percentage points above Michigan’s 5.1 percent unemployment rate.The number of unemployed persons in this MSA dropped by 902 from January 2021 (5,128 unemployed persons) to February 2021 (4,226 unemployed persons). However, the MSA’s total civilian labor force contracted over the month by 743 persons, from 71,150 in January 2021 to 70,407 in February 2021. The total civilian labor force was 73,065 in February 2020.At the height of COVID-19’s unemployment effects in April 2020, the Niles-Benton Harbor MSA had an unemployment rate of 20.0 percent, with 14,107 unemployed persons and a total civilian labor force of 70,427. Over the course of ten months to February 2021, the MSA has seen a 14.0 percentage point reduction in unemployment rate, a reduction in number of unemployed persons by 13,681, and a gain of 20 in total civilian labor force.

Southwest Michigan: Branch, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph Counties Lead the Regional Pack for Lowest Unemployment

When breaking the numbers down by county, the combined seasonally unadjusted February 2021 jobless rate of 5.7 percent for the seven-county Southwest Michigan region is down 1.0 percentage points from January 2021. February 2021 jobless rates were led by 4.9 percent in Branch County, 5.0 percent in Kalamazoo County, and 5.2 percent in St. Joseph County. Visit the DTMB’s site to see rankings by county, county labor force numbers, and an overall snapshot of Michigan’s employment.

Download the full report.

Source: Michigan DTMB: Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS), February 2021. Notes: All estimates are preliminary. Data is not seasonally adjusted.

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