Unemployment remains stable in Southwest Michigan

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

The unemployment rate proved stagnant throughout Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties in November.

According to the state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, typical seasonal hiring in retail trade was partially offset by continued seasonal layoffs in leisure and hospitality and in business services.

All four Southwest Michigan counties’ jobless rate changes were minimal, while three of which recorded jobless rates below the statewide-unadjusted unemployment rate of 4.5 percent in November.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate – the lowest in the region – rose from 3.2 percent to a 3.3 percent. Berrien County increased its jobless rate from 4.3 percent to 4.4 percent, and Cass County rose from 4.2 percent in October to 4.3 percent in November.

Van Buren County’s jobless rate rose from 4.4 percent to 4.7 percent – making it the highest unemployed county in the Southwest Michigan region.

Michigan finished with a 4.5 percent unemployment rate in November, while the U.S. produced a 4.4 percent jobless rate.

A look at Berrien jobs

November non-farm payroll jobs in Berrien fell by 800 to a total of 62,700. Seasonal job cuts were recorded in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and construction.

The 100 job additions each in manufacturing, retail trade and government were not large enough to compensate for these employment reductions.

Since November of last year, the goods-producing sector added 400 positions – all in manufacturing – while employment in the service-providing sector was flat. Private service industries that added jobs since November 2015 included leisure and hospitality, education and health, and financial activities.

However, employment in professional and business services fell by 600 over the year. Total non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County was 400 above November 2015 levels. The current November payroll jobs were still below the pre-recessionary November 2007 level by 5.6 percent.

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. 25, 2016)

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