Southwest Michigan Jobless Rates Continue Downward Trend


Seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates continued their downward fall in all 17 Michigan major labor market areas during October 2020, according to data released from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB). “Regional jobless rates continued to decrease in October with modest recalls of workers from pandemic-related layoffs,” said Wayne Rourke, acting director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “However, industry jobs remain well below October 2019 levels.” The Kalamazoo-Portage metropolitan statistical area (MSA) continues to be a top five performing MSA in the state at 4.0 percent behind Ann Arbor (3.5 percent), Grand Rapids-Wyoming tied with Midland (3.7 percent), and Lansing-East Lansing (3.9 percent).

Here’s more on statewide trends:

  • Recent pandemic-related regional labor market trends: Michigan regions in October had large percentage drops in the number of unemployed, which were somewhat difficult to evaluate. The impact of the pandemic on labor market trends can be better seen by a comparison of three-month averages for August through October 2020 with pre-pandemic values in February 2020.
  • Jobless rates up since February: Michigan average regional jobless rates for the three-month period between August and October ranged from 5.5 to 9.3 percent. Sixteen labor market regions exhibited rate advances since February. The most pronounced rate gain occurred in the Muskegon MSA with a rate increase of 5.5 percentage points.
  • Total unemployment up since February: Regional average unemployment levels for the three-month period between August and October moved up sharply in most regions since February, with the largest percentage advance seen in the Ann Arbor MSA.
  • October jobless rates up over the year: Jobless rates rose in all 17 Michigan labor market areas over the year. The most notable over-the-year unemployment rate advance occurred in Muskegon, with a rate increase of 2.9 percentage points since October 2019.
  • Payroll jobs increase slightly in October: The monthly survey of employers indicated that seasonally unadjusted payroll jobs in Michigan advanced moderately in October by 35,000, or 0.9 percent, to 4,072,000. The largest over-the-month nonfarm job addition occurred in the state’s professional and business services sector with an advance of 14,000 jobs.

The Local Story: The Combined Southwest Michigan Regional Jobless Rate Falls Almost Three Points

The combined seasonally unadjusted October 2020 jobless rate for the seven-county southwest Michigan region is down almost three percentage points from where the region sat in September 2020. Based on the state’s suggested comparison to February 2020, the region’s jobless rate is up a point, now at 4.4 percent—still well below its historical 5.2 average benchmark. Jobless rates range from 4.0 percent in Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties to 5.3 percent in Calhoun County. Visit the DTMB’s site to see rankings by county, county labor force numbers, and an overall snapshot of Michigan’s employment.

Read the full report.


  Labor Force Employment Unemployment Jobless Rate Jobless Rate Jobless Rate Jobless Rate
Berrien 72,361 69,039 3,322 4.6% 7.6% 8.7% 3.8%
Branch 19,090 18,298 792 4.1% 7.0% 7.6% 3.3%
Calhoun 60,153 56,994 3,159 5.3% 8.6% 9.8% 3.6%
Cass 23,791 22,741 1,050 4.4% 7.4% 8.2% 3.9%
Kalamazoo 134,120 128,747 5,373 4.0% 6.7% 7.7% 2.7%
St. Joseph 28,398 27,193 1,205 4.2% 7.3% 8.2% 3.2%
Van Buren 35,108 33,688 1,420 4.0% 6.7% 7.8% 4.5%
Southwest Michigan 373,021 356,700 16,321 4.4% 7.3% 8.3% 3.4%
Michigan 4,869,000 4,621,000 247,000 5.1% 8.2% 8.9% 3.6%
USA 161,053,000 150,433,000 10,620,000 6.6% 7.7% 8.5% 3.8%

Source: Michigan DTMB, Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS), October 2020. Notes: All estimates are preliminary. Data is not seasonally adjusted.

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