Michigan unemployment rate takes another big drop

By Tim Martin

Associated Press

LANSING (AP) -- Michigan's unemployment rate again fell sharply in December to 9.3 percent, state officials said recently, the lowest level in more than three years.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down 0.5 percentage points from November's 9.8 percent and down 1.3 percentage points from October's 10.6 percent. The new jobless rate is the lowest recorded in the state since it hit 8.9 percent in September 2008.

"For 2011 as a whole, the state recorded a significant decline in the unemployment rate and a modest gain in payroll jobs," said Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.

Michigan's unemployment rate in December 2010 was 11.1 percent.

The national unemployment rate was 8.5 percent last month, so Michigan continues to have higher-than-average unemployment.

The Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives said the number of Michigan residents working rose for the fourth straight month in December. Meanwhile, the size of the civilian labor force continued a drop that saw 100,000 fewer people working or looking for work last month than one year earlier.

That means some of the state's improved unemployment rate in the past year is due to a smaller overall labor force rather than job growth.

The number of nonfarm payroll jobs in Michigan rose by 4,000 last month and by 67,000 compared to a year ago.

Manufacturing jobs increased by 4,000 in December and by 26,000 for the year. Some of those gains were attributable to higher employment in transportation equipment.

Professional and business service jobs increased by 4,000 last month and by 31,000 compared to a year ago. More modest job gains were posted in areas including financial activities and education and health services.

The biggest job losses in Michigan over the past year have come in government. That segment lost 4,000 payroll jobs in December and 13,000 jobs over the year, according to the latest state report.

Published: Mon, Jan 23, 2012