MI joblessness hits 15-year milestone

LANSING, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to drop.

It dipped one-tenth of a percentage point to 5 percent in September. Michigan’s 5.1 percent unemployment rate in August had been the lowest point in 14 years.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget says Wednesday that total employment in September rose by 10,000 while the number of unemployed dropped by 7,000. The state’s workforce rose by 3,000 over the month.

The U.S. jobless rate remained at 5.1 percent. September marked the first time since August 2000 that Michigan’s jobless rate was lower than the national rate.

michigan national september unemployment rate graphic

“The comeback in Michigan has been what it’s already been for us: it’s been automotive,” Paul Isely, a professor of economics at Grand Valley State University, told 24 Hour News 8 on Wednesday. “Most of the jobs we can trace directly or indirectly back to there. The good news though is that it’s strong enough that it’s now bleeding into the rest of the economy, and we’re seeing it across the board.”

But Michigan’s downfall when the recession hit has been blamed on an economy lacking in diversity.

“Certainly, the fact that we’re so reliant on automotive is a problem, but right now it’s a strength. It’s been pushing us much faster than the rest of the U.S. for the past couple of years, and we’re taking advantage of it,” Isely said.

He said the number of workers ranging in age between 25 and 35 is starting to increase in the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas because of more and better jobs and a lifestyle attractive to that demographic.

State officials say the number of unemployed in Michigan has remained below 300,000 every month so far in 2015.

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