More Jobs for Michiganders and an Expanding Work Force

By Mike Brownfield | July 17, 2013

Grand Rapid Skyline

Michigan’s economy keeps getting stronger, and that’s encouraging thousands of Michiganders to start looking for work.

Last month, the total number of employed workers in Michigan rose by 9,000, and the labor force rose by 21,000 --- meaning that more people in our state are seeking employment.

That economic news is the continuation of a trend of positive job growth in Michigan. From June 2012 to June 2013, the number of unemployed in Michigan declined by 24,000. Meanwhile, the total employment in Michigan rose by 82,000 or 1.9 percent, since June 2012, which outpaced the national gain of 1.1 percent. And if you take a look at, you’ll see that there are more than 53,000 job openings in our state.

Because there’s a growing work force, Michigan saw a slight uptick in unemployment last month. Despite 9,000 more employed workers, the unemployment rate increased slightly by three-tenths of a percentage point to 8.7 percent. Slightly higher unemployment all while more people have jobs? How can that be?

It all comes down to how that number is calculated. And that has everything to do with something called “the work force.”

When the statisticians at the U.S. Department of Labor measure unemployment, they start by measuring the work force. That includes all people who are employed and those who are unemployed and actively seeking work. It does NOT include those who are sitting on the sidelines -- not working, and not looking for a job. That means that if someone isn’t working but isn’t trying to find a job, they’re not considered “unemployed” according to the statistics. But if they start looking for work again, they have re-joined the work force and are counted in the unemployment numbers.

The work force in Michigan is growing, though all those workers looking for jobs haven’t yet landed one. They’re trying to get back into the work force -- which is a good thing -- and it’s a sign that there’s growing confidence in Michigan’s job market.