LANSING – For yet another month, seasonal patterns have shown up in the Michigan labor market unemployment rates.
That’s a good thing. A year ago, it wasn’t just the typical November employment declines in northern regions that were present, for example, but employment that had been “dropping like a rock” throughout Michigan and no seasonality, said Jim Rhein, labor market analyst for the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth.
Still, the picture could be brighter.
While jobless rates have declined since last November throughout the state, employment growth that accompanied unemployment declines in the first half of 2010 reached a plateau in the summer and has stayed flat.
“We have not seen a lot of growth in employment, but unemployment levels are continuing to decline, so there’s a certain amount of labor force withdrawal” or fewer people looking for jobs, Rhein said, “so that is a concern.”
Since November 2009, total employment rose in eight regions of the state and fell in eight. Most over-the-year changes were marginal and employment was unchanged in one area, the Muskegon MSA.
“The fact that we’ve stabilized in some areas is a far better scenario than we were looking at in ’09,” Rhein said. “But it’s somewhat disappointing … that the first half of 2010 was a little bit more favorable than we’re seeing in the second half of 2010.”
From October to November, seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates dropped in 14 of Michigan’s 17 major labor market areas.
The largest decline came in the Detroit metropolitan statistical area, where the rate dropped 1.3 percentage points to 12 percent in November, from 13.3 percent in October.
And over the year, the unemployment rate for the Detroit MSA encompassing Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Livingston and St. Clair counties fell 3 percentage points from the November 2009 level of 15 percent.
Rhein said growth in the region’s manufacturing employment is part of the improvement, but the decline largely reflects the rate’s high level to begin with.
The Detroit metro area’s drop continued a pattern for areas of the state that in 2009 recorded some of Michigan’s highest unemployment rates. Those areas include the Monroe and Muskegon MSAs, which with the Detroit MSA had the largest over-the-year drops in November 2010 jobless rates, although declines were present in all labor market regions of Michigan.
Among Michigan regions in November:
• In the Grand Rapids metropolitan statistical area, encompassing Barry, Ionia, Kent and Newaygo counties, the jobless rate dropped to 9.5 percent from 10 percent in October.
The rate was down 2 percentage points from last November’s 11.5 percent rate.
• The Ann Arbor area’s jobless rate was 7.2 percent, a decrease from 7.8 percent in October. The November rate for the MSA consisting of Washtenaw County was down 1.5 percentage points from the year-ago rate of 8.7 percent.
• The Holland MSA, consisting of Ottawa County, saw its rate drop to 10.1 percent, from 10.6 percent in October. The November rate was down 2.3 percentage points from the area’s year-ago rate of 12.4 percent.
• The Muskegon MSA of Muskegon County posted a jobless rate of 12.1 percent that compared with 12.8 percent in October. The November rate was down 3.2 percentage points from last November’s 15.3 percent rate.
• In the Flint MSA of Genesee County, the rate was 12.5 percent, down from 13 percent in October. The rate was down 2.8 percentage points from the region’s 15.3 percent rate in November 2009.
• The Kalamazoo MSA, made up of Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties, posted a jobless rate of 9.7 percent, compared with its 10 percent rate in October. The November rate was down 1.5 percentage points from the region’s year-ago November rate of 11.2 percent.
• The three-county Lansing MSA, consisting of Clinton, Ingham and Eaton counties, had an 8.7 percent unemployment rate that was down from 9.2 percent in October. The rate dropped 2.3 percentage points from last November’s 11 percent rate.