Temporary layoffs boost unemployment rate

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

Unemployment rates increased throughout Southwest Michigan in July.

The state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives reported temporary summer layoffs of support staff in education – private and public – that started in late June continued the rise in unemployment rates regionally.

Jobless rates increased by an average of three-tenths of a percentage point in Allegan, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

Three of the four Southwest Michigan counties recorded jobless rates below the statewide-unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in July.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate – which was the lowest in the region – rose from 3.6 percent to 3.9 percent. Berrien County upped its jobless rate from 4.6 percent to 5 percent. Cass County increased from 4.2 percent in June to 4.9 percent in July.

Van Buren County remained the highest in the region while increasing its unemployment rate from 5.1 percent to 5.4 percent. Despite the large rate, it is well below the 6.4 percent unemployment rate Van Buren had in July 2015.

Michigan finished with a 5.4 percent unemployment rate in July, while the U.S. produced a 5.1 percent jobless rate.

A look at Berrien jobs

Leisure and hospitality continued to display strong seasonal hiring activities in July in Berrien County. As a result, total non-farm payroll employment in the area inched up by 100 jobs, despite the loss of 400 positions in local public education.

Total non-farm payroll jobs in Berrien County increased to a total of 64,300 in July.

Since July 2015, the county has recorded substantial employment gains in leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation, warehousing, utilities and manufacturing. However, the area registered job cuts in professional and business services and in other private services.

Employment in the rest of the sectors remained flat year to year in July. Total non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County was 1,400 – or 2.2 percent – above July 2015 levels.

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. 3, 2016)
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