Unemployment increases as residents seek jobs

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

There were two competing trends in the job market for October.

According to the state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, typical seasonal employment changes were recorded as the education sector returned to full staffing and jobs continued to decline in leisure and hospitality services.

However, more individuals broke away from the trend over the past several years by entering the labor market in October in search of jobs.

Because of this, unemployment rates rose moderately in all Southwest Michigan labor markets by an average of four-tenths of a percentage point.

All four Southwest Michigan counties recorded jobless rates below the statewide-unadjusted unemployment rate of 4.6 percent in October.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate – the lowest in the region – rose from 2.9 percent to a 3.2 percent. Berrien County increased its jobless rate from 4 percent to 4.3 percent, and Cass County rose from 3.9 percent in September to 4.3 percent in October.

Van Buren County’s jobless rate rose from 4 percent to 4.4 percent – making it the highest unemployed county in the Southwest Michigan region.

Michigan finished with a 4.6 percent unemployment rate in October (a 0.2 percent increase), while the U.S. produced a 4.7 percent jobless rate (a 0.1 percent decrease overall).

A look at Berrien jobs

Berrien County saw a decrease of 600 non-farm payroll jobs in October, mostly in leisure and hospitality and manufacturing.

The area gained only 100 jobs in private education and health services. Jobs in all other sectors remained flat. Total non-farm payroll employment in October was about 63,200.

Since October of last year, leisure and hospitality added 400 positions and a 200 job improvement was recorded in trade, transportation, warehousing, and utilities, and in leisure and hospitality.

However, employment in professional and business services declined over the year. Total non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County was 200 above October 2015 levels. The current October payroll jobs were still 5.9 percent below the pre-recessionary 2007 level.

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 Dec. 4, 2016)

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