Michigan jobless rate drops to 10.6 pct. as jobs get added

By Kathy Barks Hoffman

Associated Press

LANSING (AP) -- Michigan's jobless rate dropped half a percentage point to 10.6 percent in October, but a state official said much of the drop was because fewer unemployed residents were actively looking for work.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget on Wednesday released the seasonally adjusted rate, which was a full percentage point below the October 2010 figure. The state's jobless rate continues to exceed the national rate of 9 percent.

While the total number of people employed rose by 8,000, the overall workforce had a net decline of 17,000, the seventh consecutive monthly drop dating back to April. Since March, the state's workforce has fallen by 70,000, or 1.5 percent.

Rick Waclawek, director of the state's Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said a reduction in the number of jobless people looking for work was primary responsible for the unemployment rate heading down.

Through the first 10 months of the year, Michigan's average 2011 jobless rate stood at 10.6 percent. The rate was over 11 percent in August and September.

October marks the third consecutive decline in government jobs and the second consecutive decline in construction jobs, with both sectors seeing employment drop by 4,000.

The state added 4,000 manufacturing jobs in October and saw professional and business services and leisure and hospitality services add 3,000 jobs apiece.

Overall, the state added 2,000 payroll jobs in October and 12,000 since the start of the year. Most major sectors are employing more people than a year ago. The exception is government, which has seen jobs drop by 13,000 over the past 12 months, primarily because local governments have trimmed positions to deal with tighter budgets.

While Michigan remains among the nation's top states for unemployment, it apparently is turning around faster than the rest of the country. The number of unemployed Michigan residents fell by 10 percent from October 2010 to last month, while the national number dropped by 7 percent.

Published: Fri, Nov 18, 2011