By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
An increase in unemployment was to be expected entering the new year.
According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, seasonal job cuts were recorded in January for construction, retail trade, education, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services.
As a result, unemployment rates increased in all four Southwest Michigan counties from December 2015 to January 2016.
Allegan County’s unemployment rate went from 3.2 percent to 3.9 percent. Cass County increased from 3.9 percent in December to 4.6 percent in January.
Berrien County increased its jobless rate from 4.0 percent to 4.8 percent.
Van Buren County had the highest rate in the region, which managed to move its unemployment rate from 5.0 percent to 6.1 percent. That increase in unemployment was still lower compared to the 8.4 percent that was recorded in January 2015.
Van Buren was the only county in Southwest Michigan that recorded a higher unemployment rate in January than the nation’s unadjusted rate of 5.3 percent.
Jobless rates for all Southwest Michigan labor markets – other than Van Buren – were lower than the unadjusted statewide rate of 5.1 percent.
Job sectors hit
Total nonfarm employment in Berrien County dropped by 2,000 in January to a total of about 60,000.
Seasonal employment reductions were recorded in leisure and hospitality (700), professional and business services (400), and retail trade (300). Manufacturing cut 300 positions in January.
Since January 2015, employment in most sectors improved or remained unchanged, with the exception of professional and business services.