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Regional Michigan jobless rates move up during May


June 24, 2021
Caleb Buhs, or 517-282-6018

LANSING, Mich. -- Not seasonally adjusted jobless rates rose in 14 of Michigan's 17 major labor market areas between April and May, according to data released today from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

"Michigan regional jobless rate gains in May were often due to an increase in the number of persons active in the labor force," said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. "Payroll employment advanced in May in most metro areas."

Michigan major area unemployment rate increases ranged from 0.1 to 1.0 percentage points, with a median advance of 0.6 percentage points. The largest rate gain occurred in the Muskegon metropolitan statistical area (MSA). The Northeast Lower Michigan jobless rate moved down seasonally by 0.5 percentage points over the month, and the Northwest Lower Michigan region and the Upper Peninsula rates both remained unchanged in May.  

Regional unemployment rates decline significantly over year

Jobless rates fell sharply in all 17 of Michigan's major labor market regions since May 2020, when rates were extremely elevated due to pandemic-related layoffs. Since May 2020, major area jobless rates dropped by a notable median of 13.9 percentage points. The largest over-the-year rate decline was in the Detroit metro area, with the jobless rate plunging by 20.2 percentage points since May 2020.

Despite over-the-year rate reductions, regional unemployment rates remained well above May 2019 levels. All 17 labor market areas displayed rate advances since May 2019, with a median increase of 2.0 percentage points. The largest rate gain occurred in the Muskegon MSA (+4.0 percentage points).

Total employment up over the month and year

Regional total employment levels rose in May in 15 Michigan labor market areas. Employment advances ranged from 0.1 to 3.7 percent, with a median increase of 0.9 percent. The largest percent over-the-month employment addition occurred in the Northeast Lower Michigan region. The Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo MSAs were the only regions to exhibit employment reductions in May, due to seasonal job cuts in state government education.

All 17 Michigan major labor market areas exhibited pandemic-related recalls of workers over the past year, with a pronounced median employment gain of 12.4 percent. The Detroit metro region exhibited the largest over-the-year advance, with employment up a sharp 32.4 percent since May 2020.

Employment, however, remained below the levels recorded in May 2019 in all labor market regions, with a median decrease of 6.2 percent. The largest employment reduction occurred in the Lansing MSA (-8.7 percent).

Workforce levels up over month, down over year

Regional labor force levels advanced in 16 Michigan areas during May, with a median increase of 1.6 percent. The largest percent workforce addition occurred in the Northwest Lower Michigan region. The Ann Arbor metro area was the only region to exhibit a workforce reduction over the month (-1.0 percent).

Sixteen labor market areas had workforce cuts over the year, with a median decline of 2.9 percent. The Detroit MSA was the only region to exhibit a labor force addition since May 2020.

Nonfarm payroll job gains in May in most regions

The monthly survey of employers indicated that not seasonally adjusted Michigan payroll jobs rose in May by 49,000, or 1.2 percent, to 4,145,000. Employment increases occurred in most statewide industries, led on a numerical basis by the leisure and hospitality sector (+24,000).

Payroll jobs advanced in 11 metro areas between April and May, with a median increase of 1.4 percent. The largest percentage job addition occurred in the Niles-Benton Harbor region. Nonfarm jobs fell in the Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo MSAs and remained unchanged in the Bay City region.

Michigan payroll employment rose by 594,000 over the year, or 16.7 percent, reflecting pandemic-related job recalls since May 2020. All 14 metro regions had job rebounds over this period, with a significant median advance of 14.4 percent. Nonfarm jobs during May remained 328,000, or 7.3 percent, below the May 2019 total.

County jobless rates up over month, down over year

Sixty-three Michigan counties displayed jobless rate increases in May, while 14 counties exhibited rate declines and six county rates were unchanged. Over the year, all 83 counties recorded jobless rate reductions.  

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 not seasonally adjusted May workforce estimates for Michigan and its 17 major labor market areas follows, along with a ranking of county jobless rates for May.

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