July jobless rates rise slightly in Southwest Michigan

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — Once again, unemployment rates for regional labor markets in Southwest Michigan had a slight increase in July.

The increase came as a result of typical summer short-term layoffs of educational support staff and jobs in business services, which fell seasonally during the month.

According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, Allegan, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties were able to finish with a jobless rate lower than the state’s unemployment rate of 6.1 percent.

Outside of the state, the U.S. finished at a 5.6 percent jobless rate in July, besting Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties. The national rate fell to 5.1 percent for August, the government reported Friday.

The jobless rate for all four counties in the Southwest Michigan region varied in change from June to July.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate remained at 4.3 percent. Cass County increased from 5.4 percent in June to 5.6 percent in July. Berrien County also increased its jobless rate from 5.5 percent to 5.6 percent.

Van Buren County is among the highest in the region, but managed to lower its unemployment rate from 6.3 percent to an even 6 percent.

The state finished July with a 5.9 percent unemployment rate, a 0.1 point increase from June, while the U.S. had 5.6 percent jobless rate – also a 0.1 point increase.

Southwest Michigan registered 700 seasonal employment reductions in private and public education and another 200 in trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities. However, a 300-job addition was recorded in manufacturing and leisure and hospitality.

This left the total non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County at an estimated 62,700 in July.

Since July 2014, leisure and hospitality has added 800 jobs. In contrast, employment in the sector of trade, transportation, warehousing, and utilities decreased by 600 over the year.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 6, 2015)

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