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February unemployment rates down throughout Michigan ahead of the coronavirus pandemic reaching the state

March 27, 2020
Caleb Buhs, or 517-282-6018

LANSING, Mich. -- February seasonally unadjusted jobless rates fell in all 17 of Michigan’s major labor market areas, according to data released today from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

“Michigan’s February monthly regional labor market movements were mainly seasonal,” said Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Payroll job gains were largely observed in the state’s government sector as local schools and universities returned from break. These February estimates do not reflect the recent impact on local jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Regional unemployment rate reductions ranged from 0.3 to 1.4 percentage points, with a median decrease of seven-tenths of a percentage point. Notable over-the-month rate cuts occurred in the Northeast Lower Michigan region (-1.4) and the Upper Peninsula (-1.0).

Jobless rates decrease since February 2019

Over the year, regional unemployment rates in Michigan moved down in all 17 labor market areas, with a notable median reduction of a full percentage point. The largest over-the-year rate declines occurred in the Northeast Lower Michigan region (-1.7), the Northwest Lower Michigan region (-1.4), and the Upper Peninsula (-1.4).  

Total employment up over month and year

In February, total employment rose in all 17 major labor market regions in Michigan. Employment advances ranged from 0.2 to 3.3 percent, with a median increase of 1.7 percent. The largest over-the-month employment gains were seen in the Upper Peninsula (+3.3 percent), followed by the Ann Arbor metro region (+2.8 percent).

Over the year, total employment advanced in 16 regions. Increases ranged from 0.4 to 3.1 percent, with a median expansion of 1.6 percent. The Flint metropolitan statistical area (MSA) had the largest over-the-year employment gain (+3.1 percent), followed by the Ann Arbor MSA (+3.0 percent). The Midland MSA was the only major Michigan labor market area to exhibit no change in employment over the year.   

Labor force levels up over month and year

Over the month, workforce levels rose in 15 of Michigan’s 17 labor market areas. Labor force gains ranged from 0.3 to 2.5 percent. The largest over-the-month workforce advances occurred in the Ann Arbor MSA (+2.5 percent), the Lansing-East Lansing metro area (+2.2 percent), and the Upper Peninsula (+2.2 percent). The Detroit metro region and the Northeast Lower Michigan region were the only two areas to exhibit workforce declines over the month. 

Since February 2019, workforce levels expanded in 11 regions. The Ann Arbor MSA recorded the largest over-the-year increase, rising by 2.2 percent. Four metro regions exhibited labor force decreases. The largest workforce reduction was observed in the Midland region (-0.7 percent). Both the Saginaw and Battle Creek metro area labor force levels remained unchanged over the year.  

February payroll jobs up over month, mixed over year

The monthly survey of employers indicated that unadjusted payroll jobs in Michigan rose by 33,000 over the month, or 0.8 percent, to 4,407,000. Over-the-month nonfarm job gains were primarily concentrated in the government (+17,000) and professional and business services (+7,000) industries.

During February, payroll employment rose in 12 of the state’s 14 metro areas. Metro area job gains ranged from 0.2 to 2.0 percent, with the largest percentage advance reported in the Ann Arbor MSA. Monroe and Muskegon were the only two metro areas to exhibit slight declines in nonfarm jobs over the month, with each region’s job count down by 0.2 percent since January.

Unadjusted payroll jobs moved up statewide by 32,000 (+0.7 percent) over the past year. Eight metro regions exhibited employment gains during this period, led by the Flint MSA (+2.0 percent). Six regions demonstrated nonfarm job reductions since February 2019, led by the Bay City metro area (-1.7 percent).    

County jobless rates down over month and year

All 83 Michigan counties reported jobless rate cuts in February, with a median reduction of 0.9 percentage points. All 83 counties also demonstrated jobless rate declines over the year.

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


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 February workforce estimates for Michigan and its 17 major labor market areas follows, along with a listing of county jobless rates for February.

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

Note data revisions: The data in this release reflects recently revised historical estimates. All states in the nation participate in this revision process, which is facilitated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Labor force estimates for Michigan counties have been revised for all months of 2019. Revised data will be released in coming weeks for 2015–2018.

In addition, unadjusted payroll job data for Michigan and all metro areas was revised for 2018 and 2019. Certain industries had more extensive data revisions, some back to 1990. For newly revised data, go to or contact DTMB at 313-456-3090.

Previously published data for these years should be replaced with these new series.

Note COVID-19 pandemic: Regional and county employment estimates are produced on a monthly basis using information from the week of the 12th of each month. The information in this release covers labor market trends for the week of Feb. 9–15, 2020, and does not show any impact from the coronavirus pandemic.