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Regional Unemployment Rate Edges Down in October

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Not seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in October declined in all 17 of Michigan’s major labor market areas, according to data released from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. “Jobless rates declined in all major Michigan labor markets in October, although labor force levels were generally down over the month,” said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Payroll job levels advanced in most metro areas in October.” From September to October, nonfarm jobs rose sharply by 63,000, or 1.5 percent. This was the largest monthly job gain in Michigan since February, and the largest October advance in at least 10 years.

The National Outlook

The national unemployment rate in October 2021 was 4.3 percent, not seasonally adjusted, which is down from 6.6 percent a year ago, and down 0.3 percentage points from the previous month. Of the 389 metropolitan areas in the country, 386 had unemployment rates lower in October 2021 than a year earlier. One area had a higher rate, and two areas were unchanged. The metropolitan statistical area (MSA) with the highest unemployment rate in the country for October 2021, not seasonally adjusted, was El Centro, CA with a rate of 17.7 percent. The lowest not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was recorded in Logan, UT-ID and Provo-Orem, UT at 1.1 percent.

Here in Michigan

The state of Michigan posted a not seasonally adjusted October 2021 unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, 0.4 percentage points above national average. For Michigan MSAs, Ann Arbor had the lowest unemployment rate in October at 3.9 percent, followed by Grand Rapids-Wyoming at 4.0 percent. Flint had the highest unemployment rate at 7.1 percent, followed by Saginaw at 6.5 percent.

The Regional Labor Market Picture

Here is the data breakdown on the region’s three labor markets which are the Kalamazoo-Portage, MI MSA, Battle Creek, MI MSA, and Niles-Benton Harbor MSA.

  • The Kalamazoo-Portage, MI MSA’s unemployment rate of 4.6 percent in October 2021 was down 0.6 percentage points from the rate in September 2021 of 5.2 percent. This is a 0.7 percentage point reduction from the rate a year ago in October 2020, which recorded a rate of 5.3 percent. Kalamazoo-Portage, MI MSA had a 0.3 percentage point higher jobless rate than the national average, but it is 0.1 percentage point below Michigan’s average of 4.7 percent. The number of unemployed persons in the MSA decreased by 1,105 from September 2021 (8,521 unemployed persons) to October 2021 (7,416 unemployed persons). The total civilian labor force grew over the month by 199 persons from 162,414 in September 2021 to 162,613 in October 2021. At the height of the unemployment effects due to COVID-19 in April 2020, the Kalamazoo-Portage, MI 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 18 months to October 2021, the MSA has seen a 13.4 percentage point reduction in its unemployment rate, a reduction in the number of unemployed persons by 20,906, and a gain of 5,415 in total civilian labor force.
  • The Battle Creek, MI MSA’s unemployment rate of 6.0 percent in October 2021 was down 0.7 percentage points from the rate in September 2021 of 6.7 percent. This is also a 0.7 percentage point reduction from a year previously in October 2020. Battle Creek, MI MSA had a jobless rate 1.7 percentage points above the national average, and a rate 1.3 percentage points above the state average. The number of unemployed persons in the MSA decreased by 408 persons from 3,948 in September 2021 to 3,540 in October 2021. The total civilian labor force contracted slightly from the previous month, recoding a 9-person contraction in the labor force from 58,699 in September 2021 to 58,690 in October 2021. At the height of the unemployment effects due to COVID-19 in April 2020, the Battle Creek, MI 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 18 months to October 2021, the MSA has seen a 18.6 percentage point reduction in unemployment rate, a reduction in the number of unemployed persons by 11,344, and a reduction in the labor force of 1,693.
  • The Niles-Benton Harbor, MI MSA’s unemployment rate of 4.9 percent in October 2021 was down 0.7 percentage points from the rate in September 2021 of 5.6 percent. Niles-Benton Harbor, MI MSA had a rate that was 0.6 percentage points above the national average, and 0.1 percentage points above the state average. The number of unemployed persons in the MSA decreased by 497 from 3,947 in September 2021 to 3,450 in October 2021. The total civilian labor force in October 2021 was 70,059, which was a slight contraction of 362 persons from last month, which recorded a labor force of 70,421. At the height of the unemployment effects due to COVID-19 in April 2020, the Niles-Benton Harbor, MI MSA had an unemployment rate of 20.0 percent, with 14,107 unemployed persons and a labor force of 70,427. Over the course of 18 months to October 2021, the MSA has seen a 15.1 percentage point reduction in unemployment rate, a reduction of unemployed persons by 10,657, and a slight reduction in labor force of 368 persons.

County by County: Six of Seven Counties in the Region Hit 5.0% Unemployment or Below in October

When breaking the numbers down by county, the combined not seasonally adjusted October 2021 jobless rate of 4.8 percent for the seven-county Southwest Michigan region was up 0.4 percentage points from September 2021. Among regional counties, Cass County had the lowest rate of 4.1 percent, followed by St. Joseph County (4.2 percent), Branch County (4.3 percent) and Kalamazoo County (4.4 percent). Calhoun County had the highest rate at 6.0 percent.

The region recorded a total labor force of 361,577 in October 2021, representing a 1,032 -person contraction from the regional labor force last month. Employed persons also contracted by 2,496 over the month from 346,736 in September 2021 to 344,240 in September 2021. The number of unemployed persons grew by 1,464 over the month from 15,873 in September 2021 to 17,337 in October 2021.

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

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