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October jobless rates edge down slightly in most Michigan regions

November 21, 2019
Caleb Buhs, or 517-303-4038

LANSING, Mich. -- Nonseasonally adjusted jobless rates in October moved down slightly in 13 of Michigan’s 17 major labor market areas, according to data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. Three metro areas had noticeable jobless rate increases related to manufacturing job cuts associated with an auto sector labor dispute.   

“Michigan’s regional jobless rates were generally little changed in October, despite the strike in the state’s auto sector,” said Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “However, the manufacturing industry reported temporary job reductions in a few Michigan metro areas.”  

October regional jobless rates ranged from 2.5 to 4.7 percent. Rate reductions ranged from 0.1 to 0.5 percentage points, with a small median decline of 0.3 percentage points. The Ann Arbor metropolitan statistical area (MSA) recorded the largest over-the-month rate reduction of 0.5 percentage points. Four Michigan regions displayed jobless rate advances over the month, primarily due to auto-related layoffs. These regions included the Bay City MSA (+0.1), the Lansing-East Lansing MSA (+0.5), the Flint MSA (+0.6), and the Saginaw MSA (+0.6).    

Unemployment rates mixed over year

Unemployment rates decreased in nine labor market areas since October 2018. Rate reductions ranged from 0.1 to 1.0 percentage points, with a median decline of 0.2 percentage points. The Monroe MSA had the largest over-the-year rate cut (-1.0). Six Michigan regions exhibited over-the-year rate advances, with the largest increase in the Saginaw metro region (+0.9). The Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, and Midland region jobless rates remained unchanged over the past year.  

Modest employment change over month and year in multiple regions

In October, total employment rose in 10 regions and fell in seven. The largest employment gain was seen in the Lansing-East Lansing MSA (+1.1%). The most prominent employment reduction occurred in the Northeast Lower Michigan region, down seasonally by -1.9 percent, followed closely by the Northwest Lower Michigan region (-1.4%).

Over the past year, employment advanced in nine regions and declined in eight. The largest percent employment reduction occurred in the Bay City MSA, with a cut of -1.5 percent since October 2018.

Workforce levels mixed over month and year

During the month of October, total workforce levels increased in eight regions, receded in seven, and remained unchanged in the Bay City and Grand Rapids MSAs. Labor force expansion was mostly minor, with the notable exceptions of the Lansing (+1.6%), Flint (+1.6%), and Saginaw (+0.9%) metro areas. The most pronounced over-the-month labor force reductions occurred in the Northwest and Northeast Lower Michigan regions, which dropped seasonally by 1.7 and 2.0 percent, respectively. 

Nine Michigan regions recorded labor force advances over the year, led by the Detroit MSA (+2.1%). Seven regions displayed workforce level declines, led by the Monroe metro area (-1.4%). The Northeast Lower Michigan labor force level remained unchanged since October 2018.  

October manufacturing jobs decline in Michigan

The monthly survey of employers indicated that unadjusted payroll jobs in Michigan remained essentially unchanged in October, edging down by 400 over the month. A large job reduction of 21,000 occurred in Michigan’s manufacturing industry, reflecting workers on strike in the auto sector and associated layoffs. However, jobs advanced in October in several other industries, including government (+12,000); trade, transportation, and utilities (+6,000); and professional and business services (+4,000).

Nonfarm employment rose in six metro regions in October, led on a percentage basis by the Ann Arbor MSA (+1.2%). Payroll employment fell in six regions as well, with the largest decline in the Flint metro area (-3.7%).

Since October 2018, payroll jobs in Michigan were little changed, but this was distorted by the impact of the auto strike. During the first nine months of 2019, Michigan unadjusted payroll jobs averaged 4,433,000, or about 29,000 above year-ago levels.

County jobless rates down over month and mixed over year

Sixty-two Michigan counties demonstrated jobless rate decreases in October, with a median reduction of 0.4 percentage points over the year. Unemployment rates fell in 41 counties, advanced in 33, and remained unchanged in nine.   

Note: Data in this release is not seasonally adjusted. As a result, employment and unemployment trends may differ from previously released Michigan seasonally adjusted data.

A breakdown of seasonally unadjusted October workforce estimates for Michigan and its 17 major labor market areas follows, along with a listing of county jobless rates for October.

Note to Editors: Please ensure that the source for state and regional unemployment rates reads “Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.”

Please note: The large auto industry labor dispute began Monday, Sept.16, and ended Friday, Oct. 25.

There are two basic measures published each month on employment. The statistical programs producing these two measures handle persons on strike in different ways.

  • Household survey - Local Area Unemployment Statistics program (LAUS) - Estimates of the number of employed and unemployed in Michigan; and the unemployment rate.
    • Persons who are away from their job due to a labor dispute are considered employed in the LAUS program.
  • Establishment survey – Current Employment Statistics program (CES) - Estimates of the number of payroll jobs in various industry sectors in the state.
    • The monthly estimates of the number of jobs by industry in Michigan will decline to reflect jobs involved with labor disputes.

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