Skip to main content

March Jobless Rates Rise in Most Michigan Regional Labor Markets

April 25, 2019


Seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates in March rose in 16 of the state’s 17 major labor markets, according to data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. Total employment declined in most regions while workforce levels were mixed over the month.

“Michigan’s labor market area trends were mixed in March,” said Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Monthly jobless rate changes were minor across the regions, while unadjusted payroll jobs edged up slightly in most areas.”

During March, jobless rate increases ranged from 0.1 to 0.4 percentage points with a moderate median advance of 0.3 percentage points.  The only region to exhibit a slight unemployment rate decline over the month was the Monroe MSA, edging down by a tenth of a percentage point in March.

Unemployment Rates Down Over Year

Unemployment rates fell in 14 Michigan regions since March 2018, increased in two regions by a tenth of a percentage point, and remained unchanged in the Detroit MSA. Over-the-year rate declines ranged from 0.1 to 0.8 percentage points. The Northeast Lower Michigan Region and the Northwest Lower Michigan Region exhibited the largest over the year jobless rate cuts, down by 0.8 and 0.6 percentage points, respectively.   

Total Employment Down Over Month, Up Over Year

Over the month, total employment levels receded in ten regions, increased in three, and remained unchanged in four (the Detroit, Jackson, and Monroe MSAs as well as the Northwest Lower Michigan region).  Employment declines ranged from 0.1 to 0.8 percent with a median reduction of 0.5 percent. The most notable employment cut occurred in the Upper Peninsula (-0.8%).

Over the year, total employment advanced in 13 labor market areas. Employment gains ranged from 0.2 to 2.1 percent with a median rise of 0.8 percent. The largest over-the-year addition occurred in the Northwest Lower Michigan Region (+2.1%). Four metro areas had employment declines over the year, including Midland, Lansing, Bay City, and Niles-Benton Harbor.  

Labor Force Levels Mixed Over Month, Up Over Year

Between February and March, workforce levels were up in seven Michigan regions, down in six, and flat in the Kalamazoo, Midland, Monroe, and Muskegon metro areas. Labor force changes were mostly minor over the month, with the largest advance posted in the Niles-Benton Harbor region (+0.6%).  The most pronounced over-the-month reduction occurred in the Bay City (-0.4%) and Upper Peninsula (-0.4%) regions.

Since March 2018, labor force levels rose in 11 regions and declined in six. Workforce advances ranged from 0.1 to 1.5 percent with a median increase of 0.8 percent. The Detroit MSA recorded the largest over-the-year labor force advance of 1.5 percent. Midland exhibited the most pronounced workforce decline since March 2018 (-1.0%).

Payroll Jobs Advance in March in Most Michigan Regions

The monthly survey of employers indicated that seasonally unadjusted March payroll jobs in Michigan moved up slightly by 11,000, or 0.3 percent, to 4,396,000. Notable job gains were seen in seasonal industries such as Leisure and Hospitality (+5,000), Construction (+2,400), and Government (+2,300) as the very beginning of spring hiring occurred in a few industries and schools returned to session.

During March, nonfarm jobs rose in 11 of the state’s 14 metro regions. Metro area job advances ranged from 0.2 to 1.5 percent with the largest percent addition reported in the Niles-Benton Harbor MSA (+1.5%). Payroll employment fell in the Bay City (-0.6%) and Battle Creek (-0.2%) MSAs, and remained unchanged on a percentage basis in Grand Rapids and Midland.

Over the year, unadjusted nonfarm jobs rose statewide by 21,000, or 0.5 percent.  Nine Michigan regions advanced in employment over this period. On a percentage basis, Muskegon led the way with a 1.6 percent job gain. Four areas receded in payroll employment over the year, and the Saginaw area job level remained unchanged.  

County Jobless Rates Up Over Month and Down Over Year

Eighty of Michigan’s 83 counties reported jobless rate advances in March while three reported rate declines. Over the year, unemployment rates fell in 67 counties, increased in ten, and remained unchanged in six.

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