Jobless rate inches up to close out 2016

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

Jobless rate inches up to close out 2016

In the last month of 2016, jobless rates were somewhat stable in Southwest Michigan as the work force declined seasonally.

According to the state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, seasonal retail hiring lessened in December 2016 after the peak of the holiday shopping season, and some temporary cuts in education jobs came with the onset of winter break in area schools.

Labor markets recorded typical seasonal job cuts in sectors such as business services, construction, and leisure and hospitality.

Because of this, unemployment rates either decreased slightly or remained the same in Southwest Michigan labor markets.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate – the lowest in the region – rose from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent in December. Berrien County increased its jobless rate from 4.4 percent in November to 4.6 percent in December, and Cass County remained the same at 4.3 percent.

Van Buren County’s jobless rate rose from 4.7 percent to 5.5 percent – making it the highest unemployed county in the Southwest Michigan region.

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

Only Berrien and Van Buren counties had higher jobless rates than the state and the country.

A look at Berrien jobs

Berrien County lost 800 non-farm payroll jobs in December, primarily from seasonal employment reductions in private education and health services and in leisure and hospitality.

Professional and business services also cut 100 positions over the month. Total non-farm payroll jobs in Berrien County were estimated at 62,000 in December 2016.

Since December 2015, Berrien County gained 400 new positions in goods-producing industries, but lost the exact number of jobs in the service-providing sector. All goods-producing employment advancement was in manufacturing.

A 200-job addition each in the service-providing industries of leisure and hospitality and government were offset by employment reductions in professional and business services, private educational and health services, and other private services.

Current non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County was flat since December 2015, and was still considerably below the pre-recessionary level.

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

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 2, 2017)

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