Jobless rate falls near the end of summer

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

Unemployment rates were on the move in the right direction in August.

According to the state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, schools were a major factor as most began recalling support staff to prepare for the new academic year.

Hiring in business services also picked up in August, resulting in a slight decline of unemployment rates throughout Southwest Michigan.

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

All four Southwest Michigan counties recorded jobless rates below the statewide-unadjusted unemployment rate of 4.9 percent in August.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate – which was the lowest in the region – declined from 3.9 percent to 3.3 percent. Berrien County decreased its jobless rate from 5 percent to 4.4 percent and Cass County dropped from 4.9 percent in July to 4.2 percent in August.

What a difference a month makes.

Van Buren County remained the highest in the region, but saw its unemployment rate decrease from 5.4 percent to 4.6 percent. Van Buren had the largest decrease in unemployment for the region by adding enough jobs to eliminate eight-tenths of a percentage point.

Michigan finished with a 4.9 percent unemployment rate in August, while the U.S. produced a 5 percent jobless rate.

A look at Berrien jobs

Non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County inched down by 300 in August, mainly from job cuts in leisure and hospitality and trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities. Employment in all other sectors remained unchanged.

Since August of last year, substantial employment gains were recorded in leisure and hospitality, retail trade, government and manufacturing.

However, these additions were partially offset by job reductions in professional and business services and other private services.

Total non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County was 1,300 – or 2.1 percent above August 2015 levels. Current August payroll jobs were still 3,200 below the pre-recessionary August 2007 level of 67,200.

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

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 26, 2016)

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