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Michigan regional unemployment rate changes mixed in December

LANSING, Mich. -- Not seasonally adjusted jobless rates declined in 10 of Michigan’s 17 major labor market areas during December and increased seasonally in northern regions of the state, according to data released today by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (see technical note at the end of this release).

“Regional labor market conditions continued to show evidence of recovery in 2021,” said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “However, despite employment advances over the past year, jobless rates still remained above pre-pandemic levels.”  

Unemployment rate declines were minor, with a median decrease of two-tenths of a percentage point. Jobless rate increases occurred in five labor market areas over the month, led by the Northeast and Northwest Lower Michigan regions with rates advancing by 0.9 and 0.6 percentage points, respectively. Unemployment rates were unchanged in December in the Kalamazoo and Midland metro regions.

Regional jobless rates decrease since December 2020

All 17 major Michigan labor markets recorded unemployment rate declines since December 2020, with a large median reduction of 2.2 percentage points.   

Michigan regional jobless rates in December remained higher than pre-pandemic December 2019 rates, with a median increase of 1.3 percentage points.  

Employment levels display mixed trends over month and year

Regional employment levels were little changed in most metro areas in December. Employment moved up in eight labor market areas in December and declined in five regions. The most pronounced change occurred in the Northeast Lower Michigan region, with a seasonal employment cut of 2.3 percent in December. The Battle Creek, Detroit, Jackson, and Midland metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) all had no change in employment over the month.

Total employment rose in nine regions and fell in eight labor market areas over the year.

All 17 Michigan regional employment levels were below pre-pandemic December 2019 totals, with a median reduction of 5.5 percent over this period.

Workforce levels mixed over month, down over year

Seven Michigan regions exhibited labor force decreases over the month, led by the Northeast Lower Michigan region (-1.5 percent). Workforce levels edged up in six labor market areas and remained unchanged since November in the Bay City, Jackson, Kalamazoo, and Monroe MSAs.

Workforce levels fell in all 17 labor market areas over the year, with the largest reduction occurring in the Battle Creek metro region (-4.7 percent).  

Regional payroll employment recedes during December

Not seasonally adjusted Michigan payroll jobs fell seasonally by 16,000, or 0.4 percent, during December, according to the monthly survey of employers. This resulted in a payroll job total of 4,256,000. Industries with the largest job declines included construction (-10,000), government (-7,000), and leisure and hospitality (-6,000).

Eleven Michigan metro areas recorded monthly nonfarm job cuts, with a median reduction of 0.7 percent. Payroll employment edged up in the Muskegon, Flint, and Detroit MSAs.

Michigan total payroll jobs rose by 223,000, or 5.5 percent, over the year. All fourteen metro areas added jobs over the year, with a median gain of 4.8 percent.

County jobless rates increase over month, decrease over year

Fifty-nine Michigan counties registered hikes in unemployment rates over the month. Fifteen areas recorded rate decreases, while nine areas had no jobless rate change in December. All 83 counties displayed unemployment 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 not seasonally adjusted December workforce estimates for Michigan and its 17 major labor market areas follows, along with a ranking of county jobless rates for December.

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

Note: Data revision causing temporary series break in September 2021

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is responsible for examining the inputs to the statistical model that produces the Michigan monthly employment and unemployment estimates. Due to the impact of the pandemic on employment, BLS implemented a revised method of examining models for outliers on a monthly basis, as opposed to their usual practice of designating outliers annually. This involved implementing level shifts monthly in response to outliers in the Current Population Survey data, where appropriate. These level shifts are designed to preserve movements in the published estimates that the models otherwise would have discounted.

BLS implemented a level shift due to an outlier identified in the Current Population Survey input to the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn metro area unemployment model in January 2021. This adjustment produced some distortions in the benchmarking factors used for Michigan, the Detroit metro area, and the Balance of Michigan. To reduce these distortions, BLS has modified this outlier intervention with the publication of September through December 2021 estimates. This modification resulted in estimates that better reflect the model inputs for the most recent two months and produced a revised September not seasonally adjusted Michigan unemployment rate of 5.5 percent. This also resulted in an upward revision in September unemployment rates for all Michigan metro areas, regions, and counties. Data corrections for January - August 2021 will be addressed during the usual annual revision process at the end of 2021. The revised estimates will be published in March 2022.

The revised county estimates for September 2021, October 2021, November 2021, and the newly published December 2021 data can be fully compared with data for all months of 2020 and prior years. However, the data for September through December 2021 should not be compared with previously released estimates for January - August 2021 until all months of 2021 are revised in March 2022.



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