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Michigan's unemployment rate down slightly in December

January 23, 2020
Caleb Buhs, or 517-303-4038

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate inched down by a tenth of a percentage point to 3.9 percent in December, according to data released today by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. Total employment advanced by 6,000 over the month, while unemployment fell by the same number, resulting in no change in the state’s workforce total over the month.

The Michigan jobless rate in December was a tenth of a percentage point below the December 2018 rate of 4.0 percent. The U.S. jobless rate fell by four-tenths of a percentage point during the same period. Michigan’s December unemployment rate was four-tenths above the national rate of 3.5 percent.

“Michigan’s labor market was steady in 2019,” said Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “The state’s annual jobless rate moved down for the 10th straight year, while payroll employment rose for the ninth consecutive year.” 

Monthly labor force trends and highlights

  • Total employment rose for the third consecutive month in December. Employment was at its highest level since October 2001.
  • The number of unemployed residents fell by 6,000 over the month, or 3.0 percent, a larger decline than the 1.0 percent reduction in the U.S.
  • Michigan’s fourth quarter 2019 employment level expanded by 8,000.
  • Between the third and fourth quarter of 2019, the state’s unemployment rate fell by two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.0 percent.

Michigan’s 2019 preliminary annual average labor force data
Michigan’s preliminary annual average unemployment rate in 2019 was 4.0 percent, a rate three-tenths of a percentage point higher than the national annual rate of 3.7 percent. Total employment in Michigan averaged 4,754,000 in 2019, while total unemployment averaged 200,000. The state’s annual workforce level was 4,953,000 in 2019.

Annual average trends and highlights

  • Michigan’s preliminary 2019 annual average unemployment rate edged down by a tenth of a percentage point over the year.
  • 2019 marked the 10th consecutive year of annual jobless rate reductions in Michigan. The state’s rate fell by 9.7 percentage points since the height of the recession in 2009, with an annual average rate of 13.7 percent.
  • Michigan’s 2019 annual jobless rate was the lowest recorded since the year 2000, with a jobless rate of 3.6 percent.
  • Annual average employment in the state rose by 55,000, or 1.2 percent, over the year, while the state’s annual average number of unemployed decreased slightly by 3,000, or 1.5 percent.
  • Michigan’s annual average workforce total in 2019 of 4,953,000 was the highest level seen in the state since 2007 (5,011,000).

Detroit Metropolitan Area’s December jobless rate declines
The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metropolitan Statistical Area’s (MSA’s) seasonally adjusted jobless rate edged down by a tenth of a percentage point over the month to 3.9 percent in December. Employment in the Detroit region advanced by 4,000, while the number of unemployed dipped by 2,000, resulting in a net workforce gain of 2,000 over the month. The region’s December workforce level of 2,165,000 was the region’s highest total since March 2007.

Since December 2018, the Detroit MSA jobless rate was down slightly by a tenth of a percentage point. The region’s labor force advanced by 33,000, or 1.5 percent, over the year due to a total employment increase of 34,000 and a minor unemployment decline of 1,000.

Detroit MSA 2019 preliminary annual average labor force trends and highlights
The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn MSA’s preliminary annual average jobless rate in 2019 was 4.2 percent, slightly above the 2019 annual Michigan rate. Average employment in the Detroit region was 2,069,000 during 2019, and the number of unemployed was 91,000. 

December payroll jobs up, annual jobs advance for ninth consecutive year
According to the monthly survey of employers, seasonally adjusted Michigan payroll jobs rose by 5,000 in December to 4,452,000. Most industries recorded minor job gains or were stable. The largest over-the-month industry movements were seen in trade, transportation and utilities (+4,000) and professional and business services (-3,000).

Industry employment trends and highlights                      

  • In 2019, Michigan payroll jobs advanced in seven of the 12 months.
  • For the second consecutive month, Michigan’s manufacturing industry added jobs, rising by 2,000 in December.
  • Construction recorded the largest over-the-year percentage job decline, edging down by one percent since December 2018.
  • Average weekly earnings in transportation equipment manufacturing increased both over the month and over the year.
  • Michigan recorded payroll job gains for the ninth consecutive year in 2019.

For more detailed information, including data tables, view the full release.