By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
Seasonal hires in April led to a lower jobless rate throughout the Southwest Michigan labor market.
The state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives reported seasonal hiring continued in construction, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services throughout the region.
Jobless rates declined by an average of six tenths of a percentage point in Allegan, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.
Three of the four Southwest Michigan counties recorded jobless rates that were below the statewide-unadjusted unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in April.
Allegan County’s unemployment rate – which was the lowest in the region – dropped from 4 percent to 3.4 percent. Berrien County lowered its jobless rate from 4.8 percent to 4.1 percent. Cass County decreased from 4.7 percent in March to 3.8 percent in April.
Van Buren County remains the highest in the region, but lowered its unemployment rate the most in April from 6.1 percent to 4.9 percent. That was a 1.2-point drop.
Michigan finished with a 4.3 percent unemployment rate in April, while the U.S. produced a 4.7 percent jobless rate.
Jobs broken down
Payroll jobs in Berrien County increased by about 1,100 in April to a total of 62,200, mostly due to a job gain in leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation, warehousing, utilities and manufacturing.
A 100-person-employment addition each was observed in construction and in professional and business services. Employment in all other sectors remained unchanged over the month.
Since April of last year, employment in most sectors improved or remained unchanged with the exception of professional and business services. Leisure and hospitality added 600 new positions over the year in April, and employment in manufacturing was up 500.
Total non-farm employment in Berrien County was 1,400, which was 2.3 percent above April 2015 levels. However, current April payroll jobs were still 1,400 below the pre-recessionary April 2007 level of 63,600.