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Michigan jobless rate edges up in May


June 16, 2021
Caleb Buhs, or 517-282-6018

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan's seasonally adjusted jobless rate inched up by a tenth of a percentage point during May to 5.0 percent, according to data released today by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. Michigan employment levels increased minimally by 6,000 and the number of unemployed edged up by 3,000, resulting in a modest workforce gain of 9,000 in May.

The jobless rate for the U.S. decreased by three-tenths of a percentage point between April and May to 5.8 percent, which was 0.8 percentage points above the Michigan rate. Over the year, the U.S. rate dropped by 7.5 percentage points, while Michigan's rate moved down significantly by 15.8 percentage points. These annual rate reductions reflected the return to work of persons since the very high pandemic-related layoffs in May 2020.

"Michigan's labor market remained stable during May," said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. "The unemployment rate and payroll job counts both showed little change over the month."

Monthly and annual labor force trends and highlights

  • Michigan's May workforce level was little changed, edging up by just 0.2 percent over the month. This was comparable to the trend nationally, where labor force levels were essentially unchanged.
  • Employment in Michigan advanced for the third consecutive month during May, moving up by 24,000 since February 2021.
  • After four consecutive months of unemployment reductions, the statewide unemployment level increased in May, advancing by 1.3 percent.
  • Over the year, unemployment in the state dropped sharply by 742,000, or 75.9 percent, a decrease substantially larger than the unemployment reduction nationally (-55.6%).

Michigan employment remains well below pre-pandemic levels

  • Michigan total employment in May was 268,000, or 5.6 percent below the February 2020 pre-pandemic level.
  • The number of Michigan unemployed remains well above pre-pandemic levels, rising by 50,000, or 27.0 percent, since February 2020.
  • The May statewide jobless rate of 5.0 percent was 1.3 percentage points above the February 2020 rate of 3.7 percent.

Detroit metro area jobless rate edges up slightly in May

The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metropolitan Statistical Area's (MSA) seasonally adjusted jobless rate was little changed in May, up by a tenth of a percentage point to 4.4 percent. In fact, the area jobless rate has been relatively stable for four consecutive months, ranging from 4.3 to 4.5 percent. Employment and unemployment levels both advanced slightly over the month.

The Detroit MSA unemployment rate plunged by nearly 20 percentage points over the year, as workers were recalled to jobs after very high levels of pandemic-related layoffs in May 2020. Employment jumped by 464,000 over the year, while unemployment fell by 384,000. The Detroit metro region labor force moved up significantly by 80,000 since May 2020.    

Payroll job levels remain stable in May

The monthly survey of employers indicated that total nonfarm jobs remained nearly unchanged between April and May, edging down by 2,000, or 0.1 percent. Payroll jobs in Michigan totaled 4,113,000 during May.

Minor job changes were observed in all major industry sectors during May. On a percentage basis, the largest over-the-month job gain occurred in the state's transportation equipment manufacturing sector, with employment advancing by 3.7 percent due to some worker recalls from short-term layoffs in the auto industry.

Industry employment trends and highlights

  • For the second consecutive month, Michigan nonfarm jobs declined.
  • Payroll employment advanced by 593,000, or 16.8 percent, over the year. However, payroll jobs in Michigan remain far below the February 2020 pre-pandemic level (-340,000).
  • Broad industry sectors with the largest percent job gains over the year included leisure and hospitality (+59.8 percent) and manufacturing (+29.1 percent). However, both industries have job counts well below pre-pandemic levels.

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