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State and Regional Unemployment Rates Decline in April

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Michigan’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate decreased slightly by two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.9 percent in April, according to data released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. Employment in Michigan edged up modestly by 6,000 and unemployment moved down by 8,000, resulting in the state workforce inching down by 2,000 over the month.

“Michigan’s employment situation has improved markedly one year after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic-related layoffs in the state,” said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “However, auto-related layoffs in Michigan occurred in April 2021 due to the national shortage of semiconductor chips and the resulting impact on auto production.”

Visit the DTMB’s site to see rankings by county, county labor force numbers, and an overall snapshot of Michigan’s employment or download a summary report here provided by local economic development catalyst Southwest Michigan First.

The National Outlook
The national unemployment rate edged up by a tenth of a percentage point in April to 6.1 percent. Michigan’s April jobless rate was 1.2 percentage points below the U.S. rate. Over the year, the national rate fell by 8.7 percentage points, while Michigan’s rate dropped sharply by 18.7 percentage points. These large jobless rate cuts over the past year reflected the recalls of workers to jobs since the peak of pandemic-related unemployment in April 2020.

Here in Michigan
Overall, Michigan employment levels were little changed in April, inching up by 0.1 percent. This change was comparable to the employment increase exhibited by the U.S. (+0.2 percent). Other notable changes were:

  • Over the year, the state labor force rose by 2.5 percent, while the national workforce advanced by 2.9 percent since April 2020.
  • Michigan employment levels were 968,000, or 27.6 percent, above the year-ago, pandemic-related lows, about double the percent gain nationally (+13.4 percent).
  • Total unemployment fell by 853,000, or 78.7 percent, over the year, a decrease substantially larger than the percentage U.S. decline (-57.5 percent).
  • Despite a substantial employment recovery since the pandemic-related low of April 2020, Michigan total employment in April 2021 remained 273,000 below the February 2020 pre-pandemic level.
  • Total unemployment in the state during April 2021 was 46,000, or 24.9 percent, higher than pre-pandemic levels.
  • The Michigan jobless rate of 4.9 percent during April 2021 was 1.2 percentage points above the February 2020 rate.

County by County: Unemployment Rates in Four Counties Fall Below 5.0 Percent in April
Branch, Cass, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties all posted seasonally unadjusted jobless rates below 5.0 percent in the month of April 2021. For the first time since the pandemic, the 5.0 percent combined regional jobless rate fell below its historical average of 5.2 percent.

Among regional counties, Cass County posted the lowest seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate at 4.3 percent, followed by Branch County with a rate of 4.5 percent, and Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties with a rate of 4.6 percent. Cass and Van Buren counties had the highest reduction in unemployment rate month-over-month of 0.9 percentage points.

The region recorded a total labor force of 360,688 in April 2021, representing a 1,799-person decline from the 362,688-person labor force in March 2021. Employed persons grew by 271 over the month from 342,484 in March 2021 to 342,755 in April 2021. The number of unemployed persons contracted 2,070 over the month from 20,204 in March 2021 to 18,134 in April 2021.

At peak COVID-19 disruptions in April 2020, the seven-county region had 74,851 unemployed persons with a labor force of 357,815 and 282,964 employed persons. This represented an aggregate unemployment rate of 20.9 percent. Over the 11 months since April 2020, the seven-county region has seen a reduction in unemployment rate of 15.9 percentage points. Currently, there are 18,134 persons unemployed. On the available jobs front, the state’s jobs database, Pure Michigan Talent Connect, listed 13,476 available postings within a 50-mile radius of Kalamazoo, Michigan at the end of April; as of June 4, that number had increased to 15,415.

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

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