News Column

Michigan Unemployment Rate Dips to 8.9 Percent

Dec 20, 2012

John Gallagher

Michigan's unemployment rate in November edged down two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.9%, according to data released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

"Although there has been improvement this year over 2011 in the state's labor market, Michigan's progress in 2012 has been modest," said Rick Waclawek, director of the state's Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. "In November, the only significant job gain was in retail trade; however seasonal holiday hiring by retailers this fall was somewhat later than usual."

A survey of major employers showed that they added 10,000 jobs in November, led by 5,000 jobs in retail trade. The state's manufacturers added another 2,000 jobs in November, bringing the 12-month increase in manufacturing jobs to 18,000.

Although the state's jobless rate remains high by historical standards, the rate is down several percentage points from the depths of the 2009 recession, when the rate in Michigan topped 14%. The rate for November 2011 was 9.6%.

The national jobless rate for the month was 7.7%.

Robert Dye, chief economist for Comerica, said in his most recent outlook for metro Detroit that gains in automotive manufacturing will not be as robust going forward as in the recent past.

"The auto industry bailout and the subsequent gain in auto sales from a recession low of 9 million units (annualized) in February 2009 to post-recession high of 14.9 million units in September 2012 have brought tens of thousands of jobs back to the Detroit area," Dye wrote.

"However, gains in manufacturing employment are now flattening out. The expected climb in auto sales over the next two years will add far fewer new jobs than did the climb in auto sales over the last two years."

Source: (c)2012 the Detroit Free Press. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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