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Regional Michigan jobless rate trends mixed in January


March 18, 2021
Caleb Buhs, or 517-282-6018

LANSING, Mich. -- Not seasonally adjusted jobless rates moved up in eight of Michigan’s 17 labor market areas between December and January, according to data released today from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. Four of the state’s regions exhibited jobless rate declines over the month, while five areas had no January jobless rate change.  

“Michigan regional labor market trends in January were primarily driven by workforce reductions,” said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Regional labor force levels fell in all Michigan regions both over the month and over the year.”

January jobless rates among Michigan regions ranged from 4.8 to 10.2 percent. Rate advances ranged from 0.1 to 0.9 percentage points, with a median increase of a third of a percentage point. The largest monthly rate gain was observed in the Northeast Lower Michigan Region. The Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Lansing metro areas all exhibited unemployment rate declines over the month. The Battle Creek, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, and Niles-Benton Harbor regions recorded no rate change in January. 

Jobless rates increase over year
Jobless rates rose over the year in all 17 Michigan labor market regions, with a median rate increase of 2.9 percentage points. The Muskegon metropolitan statistical area (MSA) registered the largest over-the-year rate advance (+4.7 percentage points) since January 2020.

Total employment down over month and year
Total employment fell in 16 Michigan labor market areas over the month. Employment reductions ranged from 0.9 to 2.3 percent, with a median decrease of 1.4 percent. The largest percent over-the-month employment decline occurred in the Northeast Lower Michigan region. The Detroit MSA was the only region to exhibit a minor employment increase over the month (+0.2 percent).

All 17 Michigan regions demonstrated employment reductions over the year, with a notable median decline of 5.9 percent. The largest over-the-year employment decrease occurred in the Lansing metro area (-8.0 percent).   

Regional work force levels down over month and year
During the pandemic, monthly labor force changes have been volatile and difficult to evaluate. January labor force levels dropped in all 17 Michigan regions. Decreases ranged from 0.6 to 5.1 percent, with a median reduction of 1.3 percent. A large monthly percent workforce decline occurred in the Detroit metro area.

All 17 Michigan regions exhibited labor force reductions over the year as well, with the Detroit metro region once again registering the largest workforce decline.

Nonfarm employment falls seasonally in January
The monthly survey of employers indicated that not seasonally adjusted Michigan payroll jobs dropped by 61,000, or 1.5 percent, to 3,972,000 during January. Monthly job reductions were largely seasonal and were concentrated in retail trade (-15,000), government (-11,000), and construction (-8,000).

January payroll employment fell in all 14 Michigan metro regions. Job declines ranged from 0.6 to 2.4 percent, with the largest reduction occurring in the Muskegon MSA.  

Over the year, recently revised data shows that statewide nonfarm employment dropped significantly by 402,000, or 9.2 percent, reflecting the substantial impact of the pandemic on job levels. The most pronounced over-the-year job loss occurred in the leisure and hospitality sector (-153,000), with significant job cuts in the restaurant and hotel industries. All 14 metro regions had payroll job reductions over the year, led by the Lansing metro area (-10.7 percent).

County jobless rates up over month and year
Fifty-three Michigan counties registered jobless rate increases in January, led by Mackinac County (+2.8 percentage points). Over the year, 81 of Michigan’s 83 counties had jobless rate advances, led by Muskegon County (+4.7 percentage points).

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

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

Note on date revisions:
The data in this release reflects recently revised historical estimates. All states in the nation participate in this revision process, 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 2020. Revised data will be released in coming weeks for 2010–2019.

In addition, unadjusted payroll job data for Michigan and all metro areas was revised for 2019 and 2020. Certain industries had more extensive data revisions, some back to 1990. For newly revised data go to

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