Jobless rate drops in northwest Lower Michigan

TRAVERSE CITY — The unemployment rate in northwest Lower Michigan plummeted in August to 5.9 percent, down from 7.8 percent in July and substantially lower than the 8.7 percent recorded in August 2013.

“I think the most interesting statistic … is that, for the month of August, the northwest Lower Michigan region’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 0.4 percentage points lower than the comparable U.S. unemployment rate,” said Charlene Schlueter at the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments. “Until August, the region’s rate had not been lower than the U.S. rate since October 2002.”

There were 9,100 people unemployed in August in the 10 county area, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget said. That is 26 percent less than the 12,300 without jobs in July and 31.6 percent less than the 13,300 jobless in August 2013.

Northwest Lower Michigan fared better in year-to-year changes than the state as a whole. The statewide unemployment rate in August stood at 6.7 percent, down from 8.6 percent in July and 8.8 percent in August 2013.

The northwest Lower Michigan region includes Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee and Wexford counties.

Seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates in August declined in all of the state’s 17 major labor market regions, the state agency said.

Mackinac County’s 3.1 percent unemployment rate was the lowest in the state in August. Leelanau County’s rate was 4.6 percent, Grand Traverse 5.1 percent, Benzie 5.4 percent, Kalkaska 6.5 percent and Antrim 6.7 percent. The Upper Peninsula’s Ontonagon County had the highest unemployment rate in the state, 9.9 percent.

State jobless rates dipped partly because the workforce shrank. But in northwest Lower Michigan, the workforce grew from 153,300 in August 2013 to 154,700 in August 2014, an increase of 0.9 percent. Total employment grew over those 12 months from 140,000 to 145,600, an increase of 4 percent.

The monthly survey of employers across the state suggested that August payroll job gains were confined to manufacturing, professional and business services and construction.

The number of jobs in retail trade and leisure and hospitality services fell in August, possibly because of poor weather and cuts in seasonal employment, the state said.



Posted by Tribune News Services

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