Michigan unemployment rate remains at 8.9 percent; economics professor says good sign for Michigan economy

Isabella County remained the fifth most employed in the state in December with an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent up from 5.2 in October.

Michigan's unemployment rate held steady at 8.9 percent in December.

According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, the unemployment rate has remained at 8.9 percent since November, an improvement from October’s 9.1 percent measurement.

Michigan’s jobless rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage from December 2011's rate of 9.3 percent, a sign of slow economic improvement.

"Taken as a whole, the state's labor market improved during 2012. The number of unemployed fell in 2012, and Michigan recorded job gains for a second consecutive year," Rick Waclawek, director of Michigan’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said in a December news release.

The national unemployment rate sits at 7.8 percent.

Central Michigan University Professor of Economics Christopher Bailey said although Michigan has shown improvement in the labor market, the state is still in worse shape than in the past.

“The unemployment rate for Michigan is still considerably worse than the average,” Bailey said. “Labor markets in Michigan have been slowly improving over the past three years, and the good news is that labor markets aren’t horrible like three or four years ago, but the bad news is that labor markets in Michigan are still poor.”

A survey of Michigan’s major employers showed more than 13,000 jobs were added to the workforce in 2012. However, a survey of major employers in America showed a loss of more than 11,000 jobs in December, a majority from the business and retail sectors.

Bailey said this is good news for students who will graduate soon and are looking to enter the work force in Michigan.

“Unemployment rates look set to drift downwards as labor markets continue to improve both in Michigan and in the country in general. So, (for graduates), the work world looks a bit more hopeful,” he said. “As the national economy improves and auto buying increases, the economy of Michigan should be helped.”

Some students are still wary of employment hardships ahead, especially when considering the national 11.4 percent youth unemployment rate.

“Unemployment numbers are always fluctuating, and that’s why it’s so intimidating to find job security anywhere,” Rockford senior Ashleigh Kline said. “I’m graduating in the spring, and, right now, the job market looks OK, but that doesn’t mean it will still be OK in a few months.”

Brighton junior Emily Huckabone shares Kline’s concerns.

“I’m a business student, and, looking at the number of business jobs cut in America last month, it doesn’t look hopeful for me,” Huckabone said.

The long-term trend of unemployment in Michigan shows that the state has been recovering very slowly from the recession of 2008-09, when the unemployment rate peaked at 14.1 percent.

“I don’t have a particular prediction (for unemployment numbers in the coming months),” Bailey said. “But, if the unemployment rate in Michigan continues to change as it has been, the unemployment rate this summer would be about half a point lower than it is now.”

Washtenaw county, home to the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University had the lowest jobless rate in December at 5.1, up from 4.3 percent in November.

Kalamazoo County, home to Western Michigan University, had the eighth lowest unemployment rate in December at 6.6 percent, up from 5.6 percent in November and Ingham County, home to Michigan State University, had the twelfth lowest jobless rate at 7.1 percent, up from 6 percent in November.


Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in Central Michigan Life.